A brace by Sergeal Petersen helped the Cheetahs to a 44-24 victory against the Griquas at the Free State Rugby Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
In what was a busy afternoon for the Currie Cup, the two teams from Highveld produced an absolute try fest, which was sparked by Cheetahs wing Raymond Rhule in just the fourth minute of the fixture.
The Griquas responded shortly after that with a try from Ruhan Nel, who created the platform for his team to equalise, which it did through a Clinton Swart conversion. Subsequent to that the Cheetahs encountered some injury woes early in the first stanza.
Armandt Koster, Henco Venter were excluded from proceedings in the opneing minutes of the match while Francios Uys was a late withdrawal.
However, they remained undeterred. Winger Petersen reminded us of that when he scored his first try of the match in the 15th minute of the fixture.
Petersen surged once again in the 24th minute, using his pace to collect a second try and shift the balance of power firmly in the Cheetahs' favour. Once again, Zeilinga was reliable with the boot, extending the lead to 21-7 now.
Both teams converted penalties before the half-time intermission, leaving the status quo virtually unchanged. The Cheetahs were the first to draw blood in the second half, through Zeilinga's boot and Shaun Venter built on that with a sterling try in the 51st minute. With that he secured the bonus point for the home team.
Nel responded with a second try in the 57th minute, keeping the Griquas in contention. Tian Meyer followed that up with a score of his own, closing the gap to just 12 points. Swart's conversion narrowed that ten.
However, the Cheetahs were having none of it on the afternoon. Zee Mkhabela hit the final nail into the Griquas coffin, in the 76th minute, extending the lead to 20 points, thanks in part to the Zeilinga conversion. That sealed what was ultimately an emphatic victory for the Free State team.
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Venter, Petersen 2, Rhule, Mkhabela
Pens: Zeilinga 3
Cons: Zeilinga 5
For the Griquas:
Tries: Meyer, Nel 2
Cons: Swart 3
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Reniel Hugo 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 BG Uys.
Replacements: 16 Teunis Nieuwoudt, 17 Neil Rautenbach, 18 Teboho Mohoje, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Tertius Kruger, 22 Sias Ebersohn.
Griquas: Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Ruhan Nel, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Jacquin Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Jonathan Adendorf, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jaco Nepgen, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 Abraham le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 19 Wendal Wehr, 20 Dylon Frylink, 21 Gouws Prinsloo, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa.
Date: Saturday, September 19
Venue: Free State Rugby Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Stephan Geldenhuys