The Free State Cheetahs demonstrated their class as they scored eight tries to beat the Griquas 56-26 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Free State end the round robben stages of the tournament as the undisputed table-toppers with 39 points after their bonus point victory against the Griquas. They have eight wins out of eight games after showing class throughout the competition. The Griquas finish in sixth place after looking like a formidable side for most of the competition, but seemed to slip in form later on in the group stage.
The Cheetahs were in a different league as they beat the clock with points for a lot of the game. There was clear determination from Griquas but the defence was not good enough to stop the rampant Cheetahs. The visitors were able to claim a bonus-point to vindicate their efforts.
Shaun Venter received the Man of the Match award after a fantastic game, scoring two tries and also assisting his team-mates on their way over the try-line.
The Cheetahs made a mess of the kick-off as they misjudged the flight of the ball and were unable to field the kick. Niel Marais attempted to gather the loose ball but it rebounded off of him and straight into the hands of a Griquas player. Jonathan Francke was given the ball who darted through the Cheetahs defence and crashed over for the first try of the game.
The Cheetahs’ scrum was solid throughout the game which sent the Griquas pack tracking back. Griquas attempted to play the ball in an off-side position at the scrum and the referee awarded the penalty try which equalised the score-line.
Uzair Cassiem then grabbed a five pointer of his own when the Cheetahs countered with plenty of width before giving a long well timed pass to the loose-forward who ran clear through for the score.
Nico Lee then scored for the home side. The centre found some space behind the Griquas defence before dotting down. The visitors were at sixes and sevens which allowed Shaun Venter to finish a move in sublime fashion as he received the pass and dotted down for the five pointer.
Griquas weren’t completely beaten yet as Andre Swarts ran hard and straight at the line and broke the tackle of Cassiem and ran through to dot down for the try.
Raymond Rhule then ran a good line before he drew in the Griquas defence as he kept the ball alive and offloaded to Henco Venter in the tackle, Venter received the offload and ran through before crossing the whitewash.
The Griquas then replied with some good work at the breakdown when they made the turnover in the centre of the field before some good side-stepping from the visitors saw them break up field and Jason Fraser was sent through for the five pointer with a well timed pass on the inside.
Clayton Blommetjies then showed some neat footwork as he stepped his way past the Griquas defence before he combined well to put Francois Venter into space. Venter went on a good run before he was brought to ground but the Cheetahs make use of the width to their attack and Marais was sent through for the five pointer with an accurate pass on the wing.
Tries: Penalty Try, Cassiem, S Venter 2, H Venter, Marais, Lee, Van Jaarsveld
Cons: Marais 6, Zeilinga 2
Tries: Francke, Botha, Swarts, Fraser
Cons: Swarts 3
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Willem Serfontein, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 William Small-Smith
Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen (c), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Renier Botha, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Liam Hendricks, 2 Marius Fourie, 1 Steph Roberts
Replacements: 16 Sidney Tobias, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Steven Meiring, 19 Thabo Mabuza, 20 Eric Zana, 21 Ntabeni Dukisa, 22 Steven Moir
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Jaco Kotze
TMO: JJ Wagner