Cheetahs beat gutsy Lions in Currie Cup

The Free State Cheetahs won their fifth consecutive Currie Cup match after starting the season with four losses when they beat a gutsy Golden Lions side 20-16 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

After an uninspiring but very, very tough first half, there was more life and expansion after halftime, and also plenty of excitement after the Lions had crept back to be within one score of winning the match.

The lasting impression, however, is that neither of the two sides is likely to be a strong contender for the Currie Cup title.

The Cheetahs did too little with plenty of possession – albeit against a good defence – while the Lions simply have to win more ball to remain competitive in the competition. They cannot continue making twice as many tackles as their opposition and pull off wins.

As it now stands, the Lions’ chances to make the play-offs are slim indeed with the gap on the log becoming a big one.

The Cheetahs totally dominated the first half possession and territory. Three times they opted for corner kicks, and each time they were denied.

The domination continued after the break, by which time they were 13-6 ahead. The Lions, as they have done throughout the season, hung on with sheer guts and some effective tackling.

It is an indictment on the home side’s finishing that, despite the surplus of possession, they conceded three points when the Lions were down to 14 men without scoring themselves.

The Free State had the better of the lineouts, recycled well and thereby got more possession, and looked dangerous on the few occasions that they decided to take it wide.

The Cheetahs played most of the rugby, did most of the attacking, and looked to be home and dry when they scored just before halftime to deservedly make if 13-6 and then seven minutes after the break to go 20-6 ahead.

It seemed to be all over, but then some good play from Lions flyhalf Herkie Kruger and a lineout move that went well enough to be termed successful saw Lions No 6 Derick Minnie – who was very good on the ground – go over under the posts.

With 20 minutes remaining, the Lions were back in it.

The pattern continued, however, and one seldom had the impression that the Lions could pull it from the fire. And so it proved.

WP Nel, but for a moment of oversight with Jongi Nokwe next to him and a try there for the taking, Johan Wessels and Hennie Daniller were outstanding for the home side. Minnie, Jano Vermaak and Hans van Dyk did their gutsy team proud.

Final Score Cheetahs 20 Golden Lions 16


Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: WP Nel, Frans Viljoen.
Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (2).
Penalties: Potgieter (2)

Try: Derick Minnie.
Conversion: Herkie Kruger.
Penalties: Kruger (3)

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