WP edge gritty Cheetahs

Western Province recorded a 36-31 bonus-point win against the Free State XV in round three of the Currie Cup qualifiers, while the Leopards and Pumas also won on Friday.

Kicking proved the difference as WP prevailed in this 10-try thriller in Bloemfontein, to make it two wins in as many games. The defeat was the Cheetahs’ second loss of the campaign.

Both teams crossed for five tries, but WP flyhalf Scott van Breda nailed four conversions coupled with a penalty by fullback Grant Hermanus, while Free State No 10 Sias Ebersohn only succeeded with three attempts at goal.

The hosts controlled proceedings in the first half to lead 10-7 at the break, thanks to unconverted tries by hooker Joseph Dweba and wing Mosolwa Mafuma. Lock Jurie van Vuuren scored WP’s only try in the first 40 minutes, with Van Breda converting.

However, a triple-try strike by the visitors in the 10 minutes after the interval, including a brace by centre Daniel du Plessis, swayed the game in WP’s favour. The Cheetahs launched a comeback with three further tries, but it wasn’t enough as WP kept the scoreboard ticking over to stay in front until the end.

Elsewhere, Rhyno Smith inspired the Leopards to a 26-24 victory over the Valke in Potchefstroom. The hosts trailed 14-12 at the halfway mark, but the Leopards fullback kept his team in the game with accurate goal-kicking, ultimately adding 21 points via a try, two conversions and four penalty goals.

And in the final match of the day, the Pumas ended Boland's winning streak with a 12-10 victory in Nelspruit. The visitors held a slender 10-9 lead, but Justin van Staden added a fourth penalty in the second half to hand the Pumas a win, while they also kept Boland scoreless.

Free State XV (31) – Tries: Joseph Dweba, Mosolwa Mafuma (2), JP Smith, Tiaan Liebenberg. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (3).
Western Province (36) – Tries: Jurie van Vuuren, Dan du Plessis (2), Justin Phillips, Luke Stringer. Conversions: Scott van Breda (4). Penalty: Grant Hermanus.

Leopards (26) – Tries: Walt Steenkamp, Rhyno Smith. Conversions: Smith (2). Penalties: Smith (4).
Valke (24) – Tries: Kyle Hendricks (2), Sinovuyo Nyoka. Conversions: Karlo Aspeling (3). Penalty: Aspeling.

Pumas (12) – Penalties: Justin van Staden (4).
Boland Cavaliers (10) – Try: Nico Scheepers. Conversion: Scheepers. Penalty: Scheepers.

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

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