Cheetahs beat Sharks to book Currie Cup Semi-final

Boom Prinsloo charges forward for the Cheetahs

The Free State Cheetahs kept their hopes of a Currie Cup title alive by drawing with the Sharks 34 all and snatching the final Currie Cup Semifinal spot.

The Sharks looked set to be on their way to the play offs but the Cheetahs drew level in the final minute of the match in Bloemfontein.

The Cheetahs’ try was scored by replacement hooker Gerhard Olivier who dived over from a rolling maul, leaving Varsity Cup winner Niel Marias with a fairly easy conversion to seal the deal.

In a closely contested match where the lead changed hands several times, the Sharks opened up a 14-point lead (20-34) with only 20 minutes remaining in the match.

The Cheetahs, however, struck back with a splendid try by centre Ryno Benjamin who also crossed the whitewash during the first half.

The closing exchanges were frantic, but so was most of the high-tempo match in the Free State capital.

The top man for the Cheetahs was loose-forward Boom Prinsloo who was exceptional at the tackle area while showing that he still has Sevens pace when he scored a vital first-half try.

The Sharks scored the first try of the afternoon through flank Ettiene Oosthuizen after hooker Jacques du Toit ran over fullback Clayton Blommetjies.

Down 7-8 in the 19th minute the home side struck back through Prinsloo with Sias Ebersohn adding the extras to make it 14-8 in the 24th minute.

Somewhat against the run of play the Sharks scored just before halftime when Andre Esterhuizen picked up the ball after the Cheetahs spilled it at a ruck.

Esterhuizen passed to scrumhalf Cobus to Reinach who raced over in the corner.

Pietersen was unable to convert from the touchline which meant that the home side had their noses in front 14-13.

Ebersohn, however, had the final say of the half with a penalty.

Trailing 17-13 the Sharks stormed out in the second stanza with Paul Jordaan scoring a five-pointer which put his team back in control (17-18).

Ebersohn then made it 20-18 with a penalty before the match was turned on its head when prop Luan de Bruin was sent-off for collapsing an attacking drive the Sharks had set up from a line-out.

Soon after that Garth April scored a splendid backline try, with Pietersen knocking over penalties to create the 14-point buffer.

A few tactical changes in personnel proved vital for the Cheetahs who never gave up and with the draw ensured that they would travel to Johannesburg for a semi-final against the in-form Golden Lions.

Final Score Free State Cheetahs 34 (17) Sharks 34 (13)


Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Ryno Benjamin (2), Boom Prinsloo, Gerhard Olivier.
Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (3), Neil Marais.
Penalties: Ebersohn (2)

Tries: Ettiene Oosthuizen, Cobus Reinach, Paul Jordaan, Garth April
Conversion: Joe Pietersen
Penalties: Pietersen (4)

Match Official
Marius van der Westhuizen


Free State Cheetahs:

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit,1 BG Uys.

Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Teunis Nieuwoudt, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Ruan van Rensburg, 22 Niel Marais, 23 AJ Coertzen


15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 David McDuling, 3 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit

Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Christiaan de Bruin, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Heimar Williams 22 Waylon Murray.

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