The Cheetahs recorded a resounding 71-12 victory over the EP Elephants in Bloemfontein with four players scoring a brace of tries.
Matchflow: After a loose opening few minutes the Cheetahs started to find their groove with bulky wing Marcell Muller crossing the try line twice in the first 10 minutes of the game. The former Grey College winger was in fine fettle all game and made a distinct impression on his debut.
The Muller tries sparked the Cheetahs into life and they followed up with Wilmar Arnoldi scoring off the back of a strong driving maul. Craig Barry then made it four after he picked a good line and crashed over from short range after some patient phase play by the Cheetahs.
The EP Elephants began to fight back in the game – spurred on by prop Siya Nzuzo who was a force in the scrums and made a telling tackle on Cheetah’s eighthman Andisa Ntsila. Eventually the Cheetahs cracked under pressure with Oupa Mohoje sent to the bin after repeated team infringements. A beautiful long ball by Inny Radebe put Xolela Payi into the corner for the Elephants’ first try of the game.
The home side hit back soon after as Arnoldi scored his second after a break by Rhyno Smith down the blindside. The hooker still had a bit to do to finish, but did so well. The Cheetahs went into the half-time break with a commanding lead.
Cheetahs started the second half strong with a length of the field effort involving great interplay between forwards and backs, eventually rounded off by captain Mohoje. An intercept by Rhyno smith extended the Cheetahs’ lead but the Elephants struck back straight from the kickoff as Payi picked a brilliant line to shred the defence and go in for his second try.
Celebrations from the Elephants were short-lived, however, as Arnoldi showed some good strength and soft hands to get an offload in for Tian Meyer to score. Rhyno Smith finished a sweeping play in the corner moments later as the Cheetahs started to run riot.
EP stayed in the fight in the final quarter and never rolled over but ultimately had no answer to the power and precision of the men from Bloem. The match finished 71-12 after further tries from Meyer and Chris Smit.
Tries: Muller (2), Arnoldi (2), Barry, Mohoje, Smith (2) , Meyer (2), Smit
Conversions: Fortuin 2; Pienaar 6
Tries: Payi (2)
Key player: There were a number of standouts for the Cheetahs side with Chris Smit and Marcell Muller both having excellent outings. In the forwards Andisa Ntsila was excellent at the back of the scrum and carried well all game.
The standout player, however, was hooker Wilmar Arnoldi who showed great strength, speed and even deft offloading ability in what was a complete performance from the hooker.
Key moment: In a match where it rained tries, the key moment went to the Elephants winger Xolela Payi. The man from the African Bombers rugby club cut a superb line to splinter the Cheetahs defence for his second try. As he ran it in you could see his smile beaming from ear to ear.