The Cheetahs launched their 2022 Currie Cup campaign in style by overcoming a tenacious Griquas team at home as Ruan Pienaar scored 15 points to lead his side to victory.
After putting in a convincing display in the opening forty minutes, the Cheetahs did well to stave off a second-half fightback from Griquas and eventually emerge 30-20 winners.
A new-look Griquas side made the trip to Bloemfontein and would have been encouraged after putting the first points on the board against the home side courtesy of the boot of Zander du Plessis. The young flyhalf’s penalty would, however, be the only points scored by the visitors in the first half.
The Cheetahs looked to up the ante and Griquas’ consistent infringements under pressure allowed Ruan Pienaar to first level the scores, and then give the Cheetahs a three point lead by the 16th minute. As the half progressed, the Cheetahs started to find their groove and eventually crossed for their first try through hooker Marnus van der Merwe with Pienaar adding the extras.
The home side were not done though and piled on the misery by scoring another try just before the break through centre Dawid Brits. Another successful conversion by Pienaar meant the scores read 23-3 at half time and Griquas were left with a mountain to summit.
The visitors came out with intent in the second stanza and looked as though they might threaten a fightback when their captain Ruan Steenkamp crossed the whitewash shortly after the restart. A conversion and a penalty goal by Du Plessis promptly followed and looked to spark Griquas.
The Cheetahs for their part did well to weather the storm at the start of the second half and gradually built their way back into a game that threatened to become loose. They showed good control and started to shift the pressure back onto the visitors – eventually reaping their rewards when replacement hooker Louis van der Westhuizen crashed over for his side’s third try.
Griquas went down fighting and looked to keep play alive deep into the final ten minutes. They were rewarded for their endeavour after Luther Obi crossed in the final three minutes to bring them within ten points. Despite a late surge with the clock deep into the red, Griquas could add no more to their tally with the final score reading 30-20.