The Griquas claimed a 52-24 come-from-behind victory over the Free State Cheetahs in a game of two halves in Kimberley on Saturday evening.
The Cheetahs actually led by 10 points at half-time, only to lose by a convincing margin in the end, after a superb fightback from the home side in the second half.
Tries from Ederies Arendse, Enver Brandt, AJ le Roux, Kyle Steyn, Zach Burger and a FP Pelser brace proved too much for the visitors, who scored through Ali Mgijima and a Carel-Jan Coetzee double.
The Free State Cheetahs scored first. After prop Johan Kotze did well to effect the turnover by ripping the ball in the tackle, the ball was spread wide though the hands where Mgijima was on hand to produce a good finish in the corner as the Griquas’ rush defence was exposed.
Soon after, the Griquas responded with a superb team try with Arendse running an excellent line to go in under the posts – the conversion levelling matters at 7-7.
For the next 10 minutes, it was the Cronje show, with the Cheetahs outside centre bagging a brace in that period. Credit must go to his centre partner Tertius Kruger for breaking brilliantly to set up the second as the visitors took a 21-7 lead with 20 minutes gone.
The away side held on to that lead until two minutes before half-time when Griquas replacement lock Pelser cut the deficit to 10, powering over from close range.
After the interval, the momentum stayed with the home side as they came storming back in to the game with two tries in the opening 10 minutes to make it 21-24. First, Pelser grabbed his brace with another powerful close-range finish after a scintillating break from Brandt down the left flank.
Then, the comeback was complete when Reinach Venter was made to pay for his sloppy pass close to his try-line as Brandt pounced to intercept and dot down for a 28-24 lead.
With a quarter of the game to go, Griquas replacement hooker would crash over for his side”s fifth before a George Whitehead penalty 10 minutes later seemed to put the nail in the coffin as it meant the visitors needed to score more than two converted tries.
By the end of the match, the victory was well and truly secured as Steyn and replacement scrum-half Burger added late tries to seal a 52-24 triumph.
Tries: Arendse, Pelser 2, Brandt, Le Roux, Steyn, Burger
Cons: Whitehead 7
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Mgijima, Coetzee 2
Cons: Stapelberg 3
Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Kyle Steyn (c), 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Enver Brandt, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Eital Bredenkamp, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 4 Wandile Putuma, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Liam Henricks
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 18 FP Pelser, 19 Wendal Wehr, 20 Zak Burger, 21 Stephan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Christopher Bosch
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Ali Mgijima, 13 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Rudy Paige (c), 8 Stephan Malan, 7 Nardus Erasmus, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Louis Conradie, 4 Abongile Nonkontwana, 3 Stephan van Schalkwyk, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Johan Kotze
Replacements: 16 Hanno Snyman, 17 Kevin Stevens, 18 Raymond Woest, 19 Luigi van Jaarsveld, 20 Jannes Snyman, 21 Dian Badenhorst, 22 Reinhardt Erwee
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Jaco Kotze, Nico Schmahl
Television match official: JJ Wagner