Cheetahs leave it late vs Pumas in Currie Cup

The Cheetahs scored two tries in the dying stages to snatch a 29-23 victory over a gutsy Pumas outfit in Witbank on Friday night, keeping the visitors in the race for a Currie Cup home semi-final.


The hosts, who had been thumped 80-16 in Bloemfontein in the first round of the competition, bounced back with style and dominated for most of the match.


Pumas flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout was successful with one of only three penalty kicks in the first 20 minutes, but the home side nonetheless took the early lead.


Cheetahs flanker Philip van der Walt got the Cheetahs on the score sheet in the 28th minute when he dotted down for the first try of the match, but Pumas centre Dewald Pretorius hit back three minutes later to keep the hosts in control.


Bezuidenhout added another three points shortly before half-time and the Pumas took a 13-7 advantage into the break.


Showing some fight, prop Marcel van der Merwe barged through the Pumas defence six minutes after the restart and stretched over the line, with Ebersohn converting to give the visitors a one-point lead.


Ebersohn added a penalty shortly afterwards, but Bezuidenhout narrowed the gap a few minutes later with three points for the home side.


Midway through the second period, Bezuidenhout attempted a dummy on the five-metre line, and while the Cheetahs held him off, flanker Jaco Bouwer finished off nicely to dive over.


Bezuidenhout converted to put the hosts back in front and they looked likely to cause an upset.


With four minutes left, however, Boom Prinsloo offloaded to Ebersohn who dived over, and the flyhalf converted his own try to steal back the lead.


Cheetahs skipper Andries Strauss stormed across the try-line in injury time for the bonus point, and while Riaan Smit missed with the kick, the Cheetahs would have breathed a sigh of relief with one match left before the playoffs.


Final Score Cheetahs 29 Pumas 23


Scorers


Pumas
Tries: Dewald Pretorius, Jaco Bouwer
Conversions: Carl Bezuidenhout (2)
Penalties: Bezuidenhout (3).


Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Philip van der Walt, Marcel van der Merwe, Sias Ebersohn, Andries Strauss
Conversions: Ebersohn (3)
Penalties: Ebersohn.

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