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The Free State Cheetahs preserved their 100% record in the Premier Division of the Currie Cup when they beat the Sharks XV 38-30 in an entertaining clash at Kings Park after the Bloemfontein visitors led 17-12 at the break.
The Cheetahs’ bonus-point victory propelled them to the top of the Currie Cup standings, while they also opened up a four-point gap between themselves and the second-placed Sharks.
The Sharks started well, and their fullback Curwin Bosch gave them a 3-0 lead from the kicking tee in the fourth minute. But the Cheetahs’ forwards were dominating the battle upfront.
The visitors were especially dominant in the scrums, and referee Rasta Rasivhenga awarded the Cheetahs a penalty try in the 11th minute after the Sharks couldn’t handle the pressure five metres from their line.
The Sharks regained the lead after Bosch kicked two more penalties in the 15th and 19th minute respectively. But the Cheetahs would hit back with another try when their inside centre Michael van der Spuy charged down an Andre Esterhuizen kick, before gathering the ball and dotting down.
Cheetahs flyhalf Fred Zeilinga then kicked a penalty to push their lead up to eight points. However, Bosch kicked two more penalties before halftime to keep the Sharks in the contest.
The Cheetahs, though, were first to score in the second half when their Tian Meyer kicked though after another messy scrum on the Sharks’ line before diving to ground the ball.
Bosch kicked his sixth penalty in the 50th minute, but the Cheetahs would extend their lead when Uzair Cassiem scored their bonus-point try.
The Sharks got their first try of the match when Francois Kleinhans went over the line in the 56th minute. But the Cheetahs returned the compliment when Shaun Venter went over six minutes later.
The Sharks managed to bring the deficit down to eight points with 11 minutes to go in the match when prop Thomas du Toit went over to score. But the Cheetahs held on to take five points back to Bloemfontein.
Final Score Sharks 38 Cheetahs 30
Tries: Francois Kleinhans, Thomas du Toit.
Conversion: Curwin Bosch.
Penalties: Bosch (6).
Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Penalty Try, Michael van der Spuy, Tian Meyer, Uzair Cassiem, Shaun Venter.
Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (5).
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