Cheetahs retain unbeaten record

Leading 14-3 at halftime, the Free State Cheetahs made heavy weather of retaining their unbeaten record when defeating Griquas 21-17 in an error-riddled Absa Currie Cup match played in warm, conditions at Absa Park, Kimberley, on Saturday afternoon.

No quarter was asked or given between the two neighbouring unions. On a breezy day in the Diamond City, the match quickly developed into a typical Central Region derby between the old rivals.

Playing with the wind at their backs Free State enjoyed the upper-hand in the first half thanks mainly to flyhalf Willem de Waal’s trusty left boot.

During the opening 20 minutes of the game De Waal landed three penalties to the one of Griqua flyhalf Conrad Barnard, to give his team a 9-3 lead.

Referee Philip Bosch yellow-carded Griqua prop Bees Roux in the 32nd minute and from the resulting penalty, the visitors won line-out ball and their formidable pack drove over the home team’s tryline,

Man of the match Hendro Scholtz scoring the unconverted try in the left-hand corner.

Worse was to follow for Griquas when in the 35th minute they were down to 13 players because flank Wayne van Heerden had been dispatched to the sin bin.

Though the Cheetahs were unable to capitalise on their two-man advantage before the changeover, they did so immediately after the changeover.

With two Griqua defenders making a mess of fielding a long kick down-field, right-wing Eddie Fredericks was quickly on to the loose ball, making ground and then passing inside to centre Hendrik Meyer who ran hard to score near the posts. De Waal added the conversion and it was 21-3 to Free State.

Bees Roux and Wayne van Heerden had only just returned to the battle when Free State centre Marius Joubert was yellow-carded.

Enjoying a player advantage and making good use of the wind now at their backs, Griquas suddenly sparked and ran in two converted tries inside 15 minutes through wings Tiger Mangweni and Bobby Joubert.

It was now 21-17 to the visitors and though the log-leaders lifted their game in the final quarter, determined Griq ua defence kept them at bay. For their part Gareth Krause’s determined team kept probing for a way through — but it was not to be.

Free State deserved their victory but for Griquas there was at least the satisfaction of an encouraging team performance and a vital bonus point at the lower end of the log. – Sapa

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