Free State Cheetahs were brought back down to earth with a bump this week as they fell to a late surge from the Sharks, who won 25-13.
Free State Cheetahs were brought back down to earth with a bump this week as they were victims of a late surge from the Sharks, losing 25-13.
With a few Boks back in their provincial colours due to their away leg having drawn to a close, many billed this to be the game of Round Four.
But that unfortunately was not the case as the low-tempo game lacked any punch, that was until the final five minutes when the Sharks cut loose. Granted, it might not have helped its cause that this contest had to follow events in Melbourne.
The result means that the Cheetahs' streak of just three defeats to the Sharks in twelve now turns to four in thirteen as home advantage did not serve them well.
John Plumtree meanwhile had made two changes and one positional for the trip, with Steve Meyer preferred to Monty Dumond at fly-half while Keegan Daniel went from eight to seven to accommodate the return of loose forward Ryan Kankowski.
Victory has moved the Sharks back up to second place in the standings, but as mentioned, it was not pretty. Versatile young back Patrick Lambie did contribute 20 points though.
And so to the game, which never really got going until the end. Strydom it was who got the ball rolling in Bloemfontein via the kicking tee before his half-back partner Tewis de Bruyn was sent to the sin-bin by referee Mark Lawrence for an offence that led to Lambie levelling.
But upon his return, the busy scrum-half made amends for his indiscretion as he went over for an opportunistic try on 34 minutes, taking the scores to 10-3 before two broken noses, one each for Steve Meyer and Pat Cilliers, saw the Sharks pair depart.
The lead was then stretched to ten points by Strydom before Lambie brought the arrears back down to seven until a late onslaught from the men from Durban saw Free State crumble. First it was replacement forward Eugene van Staden who crossed and then came a quick-fire double from Lambie that saw him finish the game with a personal tally of 20.
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: De Bruyn
Pen: Strydom 2
For the Sharks:
Tries: Van Staden, Lambie 2
Con: Lambie 2
Pen: Lambie 2
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Philip Snyman, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 CornÃ© Uys, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Louis Strydom, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Barend Pieterse, 4 Izak van der Westhuizen, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Skipper Badenhorst, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Tertius Carse, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Meyer Bosman.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Stefan Terblanche (c), 12 Patrick Lambie, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Steve Meyer, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Keegan Daniel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Patric Cilliers.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Eugene van Staden, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Andries Strauss.
Referee: Mark Lawrence