Ryno Benjamin scored a hat-trick to help the Free State Cheetahs beat the Pumas 52-10 in Nelspruit on Friday.
This was another dominant performance by the Cheetahs for a result which not only secures them a home semi-final but also a possible home final should they get there. They are also still unbeaten in the competition.
The misery continues for the Pumas who gave another hapless performance and are still without a win this season in what will be remembered as a disastrous season for them.
They simply couldn't cope with the Cheetahs onslaught and once the visitors went ahead with Benjamin's first try of the evening they never had a chance. The Free State winger had an outstanding game not only because of his three tries but also for his work-rate throughout the game. Benjamin constantly looked for work and more than once his speed to the breakdown resulted in turnovers for his side.
The home side were also decimated in the scrums and in one specific instance their wayward line-out throwing directly resulted in a try for the opposition.
The beneficiary of that lost line-out was Cheetahs captain Francois Venter. The Cheetahs went wide after stealing that line-out which led to a break by full-back Clayton Blommetjies. Blommetjies got a pass away to Sergeal Petersen in support who gave the inside pass to Venter powered over for a five-pointer.
Flanker Paul Schoeman contributed with two tries of his own, the second one coming from a kick down field by Niel Marais. Petersen and Benjamin chased it down when Petersen made the tackle and Benjamin won the turnover penalty. The winger reacted quickly and gave a cross field kick which Schoeman collected to score.
Benjamin's second try came from a scrum penalty on the Pumas 5m line which was sent wide to Benjamin for an easy run-in. His third came midway through the second half for a well deserved hat-trick after some slick handling in the Pumas 22.
For Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Benjamin 3, Cassiem, Schoeman 2, Venter, Huggett
Cons: Marais 5, Zeilinga
Pumas: 15 Heinrich Steyl, 14 Ruwellyn Isbell, 13 Hoffman Maritz, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 JP Lewis, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Renaldo Bothma (c), 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Brian Shabangu, 5 Jannie Stander, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Louis Albertse, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Khwezi Mona
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 DeJay Terblanche, 18 Jeremy Jordaan, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Devon Williams, 22 Tyler Fisher
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Ryno Benjamin, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Jacques Du Toit, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Armandt Koster, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 William Small-Smith
Date: Friday, September 23
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 18:45 local (16:45 GMT)
Referee: Lesego Legoete
Assistant Referees: Jaco van Heerden, Ricus van der Hoven
TMO: Johan Greeff