Cheetahs win basement battle

The Cheetahs scored four tries in their 34-20 victory against the Kings in Bloemfontein on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.

It was only the Cheetahs' third win in 11 matches this season, and their first against a team other than the Sunwolves, while the Kings slumped to their ninth defeat in 10 matches. Taking their poor campaigns into account, the woeful crowd at Free State Stadium for this fixture came as no surprise.

Once again, the Kings produced a spirited performance but had nothing to show for their efforts at the end of the 80 minutes. The Cheetahs got four log points but will be disappointed not to have secured all five.

The first 10 minutes of this match were closely contested. Shane Gates brushed off two tackles in the Kings' best attacking move early on, which was ultimately shut down by the hosts' defence. The Cheetahs then thought they had scored a try through Torsten van Jaarsveld, but the referee correctly ruled that the pass from Clayton Blommetjies had gone forward.

Elgar Watts and Fred Zeilinga exchanged penalty goals to see the teams locked at 3-3 at the end of the first quarter, before the Cheetahs again had a try ruled out because of a forward pass. This time the TMO correctly ruled that Raymond Rhule had been in front of Shaun Venter when he received possession.

But the hosts did get over the whitewash soon after. They stole a Kings lineout and Lood de Jager broke away. The ball then went wide to Rhule, who cantered over for a converted try.

The Cheetahs scored another in the 28th minute when the ball popped out of a scrum and was picked up by Uzair Cassiem, who made it 17-3.

Watts clawed three points back for the visitors, who would finish the half strongly. JC Astle made a strong run but the second-rower threw a 50-50 pass when he should have gone to ground close to the tryline and conceded possession.

Another lost lineout would cost the Kings dearly early in the second half. De Jager and Francois Venter did well to get the ball out to Sergeal Petersen, who gave the try-scoring pass to Michael van der Spuy on his inside.

The Kings responded with their first try when JP du Plessis took advantage of some poor Cheetahs defence. Louis Fouché, who had just replaced Watts, slotted the conversion to make it 27-13.

But any hopes the visitors had of a comeback ended when Cassiem did well to get the ball to Petersen on the blindside. The winger appeared to pull a hamstring just before dotting down for the try and was immediately substituted.

The Kings added some respectability to the scoreboard, and cost the Cheetahs a bonus point, when Lukhanyo Am scored a converted try with eight minutes remaining.

The hosts were reduced to 14 men when Paul Schoeman was yellow-carded for a professional foul at the breakdown, but the visitors were unable to make their one-man advantage count.

Cheetahs – Tries: Raymond Rhule, Uzair Cassiem, Michael van der Spuy, Sergeal Petersen. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (4). Penalties: Zeilinga (2).
Kings – Tries: JP du Plessis, Lukhanyo Am. Conversions: Louis Fouché (2). Penalties: Elgar Watts (2).

Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Carl Wegner, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Nico Lee.

Kings – 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Shane Gates (c), 11 Luzuko Vulindlu, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 James Hall, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 JP Jonck, 5 JC Astle, 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Cornell Hess, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Ntando Kebe, 22 Louis Fouché, 23 Leighton Eksteen.

Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images

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Simon Borchardt