The Cheetahs scored five tries to secure a 33-13 bonus-point win over Edinburgh in Bloemfontein on Friday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The result sees the Cheetahs move to within a point of Munster on the Conference A log, but both still linger behind the undefeated Glasgow Warriors.
It wasn’t a free-flowing match, as the momentum ebbed and flowed, but the Cheetahs were fully deserving of their victory. With No 8 Junior Pokomela leading the charge, the hosts were in control at the breakdown area and held the upper hand in the lineouts and scrums.
The first half made for fascinating viewing. The Cheetahs boasted a greater stake in possession and territory, while Edinburgh struggled to adjust to the foreign conditions. Yet the teams remained deadlocked until the 27th minute when debutant Craig Barry put the Cheetahs ahead.
Edinburgh conceded an unnecessary penalty on their own feed at a lineout and the Cheetahs opted to scrum. From the set piece, they swung the ball wide, and when Clayton Blommetjies threaded a grubber kick through a gap, the ball sat up perfectly for Barry to score unopposed.
Not long after, Blommetjies – who is back in favour after being relegated to Currie Cup duties – made a telling break to set up flank Rynier Bernardo for the Cheetahs’ second try of the game. Flyhalf Fred Zeilinga added the second conversion as the hosts took a 14-0 lead into the break.
Edinburgh responded beautifully at the restart through Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, whose 13-point haul propelled the visitors to within a point of their hosts. The flyhalf cantered in for a self-converted try, which was sandwiched between two penalties.
But their hopes of a complete comeback were squashed as the Cheetahs struck a triple blow in the final quarter to put the game beyond Edinburgh’s reach.
First, Pokomela carried the ball over the line from the back of a dominant scrum, followed by tries from magic man Makazole Mapimpi and scrumhalf Tian Meyer.
Zeilinga landed two of the conversions as the Cheetahs clinched an impressive 20-point triumph.
Cheetahs – Tries: Craig Barry, Rynier Bernardo, Junior Pokomela, Makazole Mapimpi, Tian Meyer. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (4).
Edinburgh – Try: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne. Conversion: Hidalgo-Clyne. Penalties: Hidalgo-Clyne (2).
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Luther Obi, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Makazola Mapimpi, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Junior Pokomela, 7 Rynier Bernardo, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Jasper Wiese, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Tertius Kruger, 23 Craig Barry.
Edinburgh – 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Lewis Carmichael, 5 Fraser McKenzie (c), 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Neil Cochrane, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Subs: 16 Cameron Fenton, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Kevin Bryce, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Junior Rasolea.