Nico Lee scored a brace as the Cheetahs claimed a 45-24 bonus-point win over the Kings in Bloemfontein on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Cheetahs came into this clash as favourites. They scored six tries in the 45-21 win over the Kings in Port Elizabeth last week, with Lee crossing the line on three occasions.
The South African derby in Bloemfontein witnessed more of the same. The Kings competed well in the first half, but were outmuscled and outclassed in the second.
Lee scored two tries for the hosts, both from close range. The Cheetahs’ defence and discipline left a lot to be desired, though. Kings flyhalf Martin du Toit broke the line and then set up Schalk Ferreira for an important try before half-time.
Ntubeni Dukisa’s accurate goal-kicking further reduced the deficit. The Cheetahs went to the break with a modest 24-17 lead.
The hosts brought the small crowd at Free State Stadium to its feet shortly after half-time. Clayton Blommetjies broke down the left wing, and then kicked back infield for his support runners to chase. Loosehead prop Ox Nche – of all people – beat everybody to the bouncing ball, scooped it up, and then dotted down for a spectacular score.
The Kings had an opportunity to hit back when Craig Barry was shown a yellow card. The Cheetahs wing clashed with Yaw Penxe in the air, and the hosts were forced to compete with 14 men for 10 minutes as a result.
But it was the Cheetahs who scored next. The hosts launched a counter-attack from within their own 22, and Blommetjies kicked ahead. On this occasion, Makazole Mapimipi beat the Kings’ defence to collect the ball and score.
The 15-man Kings battled to contain the 14-man Cheetahs. Shaun Venter sailed through a gap, and then Fred Zeilinga’s subsequent conversion extended the lead to 28 points.
Zeilinga finished the game with an individual points tally of 15 points after converting all seven of his attempts on goal.
Cheetahs – Tries: Nico Lee (2), Uzair Cassiem, Ox Nche, Makazole Mapimpi, Shaun Venter. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (6). Penalty: Zeilinga.
Kings – Tries: Luzuko Vulindlu, Schalk Ferreira, Tienie Burger. Conversions: Ntabeni Dukisa (2), Benhard Janse van Rensburg. Penalty: Dukisa.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Niel Marais, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje (c), 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 AJ Coertzen.
Kings – 15 Ntabeni Dukisa, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Burger Martinus, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Lindokuhle Welemu, 20 Eital Bredenkamp, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Berton Klaasen.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images