Cheetahs snatch late Currie Cup draw against Sharks

Willie du Plessis kicked a late penalty to earn the Free State Cheetahs a late 30-30 draw against Currie Cup champions the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The Sharks drew first blood after a helter skelter start on both sides, with fly half Lionel Cronje kicking a penalty in the eighth minute to give the Durban based side the early lead.

The Cheetahs quickly regrouped and put together useful phases of attack before seasoned scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius burst over from the side of the ruck for his five pointer. Fly half Willie du Plessis converted, giving the hosts a slight lead of four points.

The Cheetahs started to look more composed than a Sharks outfit that has lost its last two games and Pretorius underlined that fact in the 22nd minute when he again burst through the Sharks defenders to run straight through and dot down underneath the uprights for a converted try.

The Sharks finally gave their supporters something to smile about when winger S’bura Sithole went over in the corner five minutes before half time. Cronje converted a difficult kick and brought the visitors back within four points of the Cheetahs. Their joy was shortlived as they were again put under pressure by the hosts and Du Plessis kicked the penalty after the Sharks could only stop them illegally.

Cronje had the final say of the first half as he kicked a penalty on the hooter to make the score 17-13 in favour of the hosts.

The Cheetahs started the second half where they left off and some good attacks followed. Finally flanker Tienie Burger scored in the 53rd minute and Du Plessis converted to give the hosts a lead of 11 points.

Cronje kicked a penalty to shorten the Cheetahs lead to eight points, before center Andre Esterhuizen scored and Cronje converted to make it a one point deficit. Du Plessis replied with a penalty of his own to extend the lead to four points again.

The Sharks appeared to have the final say of the game when eighth man Tera Mthembu scored under the uprights and Cronje converted, but Du Plessis kept his cool after the hooter to sneak in the draw

Final Score Sharks 30 (13) Free State Cheetahs 30 (17)

Scorers

Sharks
Tries: S’Bura Sithole, Andre Esterhuizen, Tera Mthembu.
Conversions: Lionel Cronje (3)
Penalties: Lionel Cronje (3).

Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Sarel Pretorius (2), Tienie Burger.
Conversions: Willie du Plessis (3)
Penalties: Willie du Plessis (3)

Teams

Free State Cheetahs

Rayno Benjamin, Maputha Dolo, Francois Venter, Joubert Engelbrecht, JP du Plessis, Willie du Plessis, Sarel Pretorius, Lappies Labuschagne, Neil Claassen, Tienie Burger, Francois Uys, Henco Venter, George Marich, Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), Caylib Oosthuizen.

Replacements: AJ le Roux, Rudolph Botha, Werner Lourens, Vincent Jobo, Shaun Venter, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, AJ Coertzen

Sharks

Tim Swiel, Odwa Ndungane, S’bura Sithole, Andre Esterhuizen, Tonderai Chavhanga, Lionel Cronje, Conrad Hoffmann, Tera Mtembu (captain), Etienne Oosthuizen, Jacques Botes, Stephan Lewies, Marco Wentzel, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Thomas du Toit, Johan Meyer, Khaya Majola, Cameron Wright, Fred Zeilinga, SP Marais.

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