Bonus point Cheetahs beat Griquas

The Free State Cheetahs scored five tries to one and beat Griquas 33-26 in their Currie Cup match in Bloemfontein on Friday night, with the visitors collecting a bonus point after the final hooter.

It was a good win for the home side who last weekend went down to Western Province and lost the corresponding encounter to Griquas last year.

And although there were patches of average play, it was a pleasant game to watch with both sides showing glimpses of their capabilities.

The game was marked by some aggressive scrummaging from both packs and better defence by Free State than last weekend.

Griquas, on the other hand, will rue some defensive errors and some handling mistakes in situations where they should have capitalised and the fact that they again, as they did last week against the Sharks, only really got going after the break.

The first half produced some exciting but at times rather disjointed rugby.

Free State had the territorial advantage, scoring one decent and one fortuitous try before the break, and also held majority possession.

The first Free State try was a give-away as Sarel Pretorius, going to the right, pivoted and passed behind him to the left where former Springbok Sevens player Philip Snyman intercepted.

He fed another ex-Sevens Bok Robert Ebersohn who sprinted over.

From then on the home side were mostly on attack and in control in the first half – and despite leading only 7-6 after two penalties by Griquas, it was a matter of time before Free State scored again.

This time it was Ashley Johnson who ran a good line after impressive work by the forwards and then gave an immaculate offload.

Again Snyman was the man who handled last before the try when he was pulled down on the tryline after a good run. From the ensuing ruck prop Coenie Oosthuizen went over.

Free State increased their 14-6 half-time lead shortly after the break when they built up from far out. Again it was Oosthuizen who finished for his second try.

With Louis Strydom’s third successful conversion and the hosts leading 21-6, Griquas had a mountain to climb.

They took the first steps towards that goal when Bjorn Basson ran a sublime angle to take a pass from Pretorius and score under the posts (21-13).

But another Sevens Springbok, Jongi Nokwe, stretched the Free State lead to 26-13 after Juan Smith, who is fast getting back to his best after injury, recycled for a perfectly timed pass by Ebersohn to send Nokwe over for the bonus point try.

Olivier pulled a penalty back for Griquas (26-16) with 19 minutes remaining and the visitors seriously threatened the Free State line but then transgressed when it mattered most with the game moving to the other side of the field.

The result seemed beyond doubt when Griquas lost a deep thrown lineout on their own line and Oosthuizen scored a rare prop hat-trick – and with the conversion good it was 33-16 with only 14 minutes remaining.

Outstanding ball control by Pretorius was rewarded by a converted try (33-23) from a deep throw at a short lineout, and after the hooter Griquas got their bonus point with a penalty kick.

Final Score Free State Cheetahs 33 Griquas 26


Free State:
Tries: Robert Ebersohn, Coenie Oosthuizen (3), Jongi Nokwe.
Conversions: Louis Strydom (4).

Try: Bjorn Basson, Sarel Pretorius.
Conversions: Naas Olivier (2).
Penalties: Riaan Viljoen, Olivier (3).

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