Cheetahs earn bonus point Currie Cup victory

Shaun Venter starts for the Free State Cheetahs

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith asked his men to make a step-up and that is exactly
what they did in their 31-9 Currie Cup victory over Griquas on Friday.

A stand-out feature of the match was that the Cheetahs looked sharp with ball-in-hand
throughout the evening while Griquas struggled to keep up with the pace for
the full 80-minutes.

Between fly-half Fred Zeilinga who;s distribution game was impeccable
and Raymond Rhule, who always kept the Peacock Blue;s defenders guessing,
Smith will be slightly more satisfied after a rather disappointing start tot
the season.

But it was a close affair in the first half and Griquas were solid at set-phase
play before losing ground to their ever-attacking opponents.

Milking a penalty from a scrum the home side opened the scoring in the seventh
minute through wing Ntabeni Dukisa who was the team;s main goal kicker.

Dukisa;s boot turned out to be the team;s only saving grace in
an otherwise disappointing evening although it is a mystery why such a kicking
talent is wasted out wide.

Zeilinga had a chance early on to level the scores, but made his only mistake
of the evening, pulling a penalty to the left of the uprights.

The Cheetahs would squander a few fairly routine scoring opportunities as they
were rewarded for their expansive approach and eventually it took a moment of
brilliance by Rhule to get his team on the board.

Ryno Benjamin finished off for the visitors after a brilliant off-load by Rhule
who was quick to react following a nifty piece of play by Zielinger.

With the conversion, the Cheetahs were ahead 7-3 after 15 minutes.

Griquas were also full of running and came close to scoring a try of their
own, but lacked composure when they came close to the Cheetahs try-line.

The Cheetahs enjoyed a 10-3 close to the half-hour mark, but by the time the
teams turned for the tunnel it became evident that the men from Bloemfontein
were not going to settle for anything less than a bonus point victory.

Griquas coach Hawies Fourie made some interesting changes at the break, replacing
both his props who did not fare too badly during the first 40 minutes, but it
was the defence of his backline players that turned out to be his main headache
of the evening.

Despite the changes upfront, Griquas still showed dominance in the engine room
as they trailed 9-10 at the interval.

Shortly after half-time Zeilinger snuck through for what could have been the
easiest try of his career. The pivot ran a superb line, capping a solid night,
and after only 10 minutes had been played in the final 40-minutes the Cheetahs
enjoyed a 17-10 lead while their opponents started to fade.

Rhule was instrumental in his team;s third try of the night as he made
a telling run off the wing which resulted in Sergeal Petersen dotting down.

It was a case of dun-and-dusted when the Cheetahs scored their bonus point
try though Gerhard Olivier in the 53rd minute.

To their credit, Griquas tried valiantly to get back into the match, but a
combination of yellow cards and poor decision making denied Fourie;s men
the momentum they would need to add to their first-half score.

Final Score Griquas 9 (9) Cheetahs 31 (10)

Scorers

Griquas
Penalties: Ntobeni Dukisa (3)

Cheetahs
Tries: Rayno Benjamin, Fred Zeilinga, Sergeal Petersen, Gerhard Olivier
Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (4)
Penalty: Zeilinga

Teams

Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Sandile Ngcobo, 13 Ruhan Nel,
12 Michael Van Der Spuy, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer
(captain), 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Johan Wessels, 6 Hilton Lobberts, 5 Jaco Nepgen,
4 Jo

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