The Free State Cheetahs claimed a 31-9 bonus-point victory over Griquas in Kimberley on Friday, MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
It was the Cheetahs' first win of this Currie Cup campaign following two defeats, while Griquas suffered their third consecutive loss.
The first half was fiercely contested, with big hits flying in as both teams showed good commitment on defence.
Where Griquas did have the upper hand was in the scrums, and they took an early 3-0 lead after the Cheetahs front row conceded a penalty.
With impeccable defending, it looked as if the visitors would have to accumulate points via the boot of flyhalf Fred Zeilinga. However, the back three of Clayton Blommetjies, Raymond Rhule and Sergeal Petersen had other ideas. They ran the ball back at Griquas' line at every opportunity and the wall eventually broke when the wingers linked up brilliantly before releasing Rayno Benjamin to score under the posts.
Zeilinga added the conversion and a penalty, before his opposite number Ntabeni Dukisa succeeded with two penalty goals to make it 10-9 at the break.
The second half belonged entirely to the Cheetahs as they put the result beyond doubt soon after the interval. Three converted tries by Petersen, Zeilinga and blindside flanker Gerhard Olivier in the space of six minutes sunk Griquas.
The game became subdued when reserves Ewald van der Westhuizen and Maks van Dyk were sin-binned. But even with the return of these players and better territorial play in the final quarter, Griquas were unable to claw their way back into the match, as the Cheetahs left Kimberley with all the log points on offer.
Griquas – Tries: Rayno Benjamin, Sergeal Petersen, Fred Zeilinga, Gerhard Olivier. Conversions: Zeilinga (4). Penalty: Zeilinga.
Free State Cheetahs – Penalties: Ntabeni Dukisa (3).
Griquas – 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Ruhan Nel, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Hilton Lobberts, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 AJ Le Roux, 1 Danie Mienie.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 18 Jaco Nepgen, 19 Leon Karemaker, 20 Rudi Van Rooyen, 21 Clinton Swart, 22 Jacquin Jansen.
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Ruan van Rensburg, 22 Sias Ebersohn.
Photo: Louis Botha/Gallo Images