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Rugby | Absa Currie Cup

Riaan Smit © Gallo Images

Smit boots Cheetahs to victory



Riaan Smit kicked 19 points as the Toyota Free State Cheetahs beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls 32-18 (half-time 23-10) in their Absa Currie Cup Premier Division match at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Right wing Smit succeeded with all seven of his kicks at goal as he nailed five penalties and two conversions as the Cheetahs went some way to erasing memories of the 43-20 loss they had suffered at the hands of the Lions in their opening fixture of the season.

The Cheetahs made an electric start to the match when they grabbed a try in 45 seconds after they had kicked off. The Bulls tried to bash the ball up but conceded a turnover.

The hosts shifted the ball to the left and lock Andries Ferreira managed to stretch out and score in the tackle after a couple of powerful forward surges from the Cheetahs had left the Bulls’ defensive line in tatters.

Smit, who had played flyhalf against the Lions, converted the try before adding a penalty as the Cheetahs moved into a 10-0 lead after 18 minutes.

The Bulls’ forwards gained the upper-hand as the first half wore on with their mauling being particularly effective but the Cheetahs’ backline was showing more enterprise than their opponents and their ability to run the ball from deep put the Bulls’ defence to the test.

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Bulls flyhalf Louis Fouche and Smit then traded penalties but, with 10 minutes left in the half the visitors finally got a try of their own through eighthman CJ Stander.

A sweeping backline move from the Bulls saw Stander get the ball on the left-hand touchline and he showed immense power to barge his way past fullback Hennie Daniller before going over in the left-hand corner despite a despairing tackle from lock Izak van der Westhuizen.

Fouche kicked the conversion but the rest of the half belonged to the Cheetahs thanks to a Smit’s third penalty before No 8 Kabamba Floors grabbed a try two minutes after the hooter had sounded

A series of attacks from the Cheetahs on the Bulls’ tryline saw the visitors finally run out of defenders allowing Floors to take the scoring pass from scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius to crash over from close range.

Smit kicked the conversion as the Cheetahs went to the break holding a 23-10 lead.

Fouche and Smit traded penalties soon after the restart but the Cheetahs were starting to win the battle at the breakdown and a turnover in the Bulls’ 22-metre area eventually led to another Smit penalty in the 57th minute.

The Cheetahs’ smothering defence was proving frustrating for the Bulls as a number of their attacking forays were snuffed out.

But with seven minutes left in the match the Bulls finally breached the Cheetahs defence when Stander strolled over in the right-hand corner for his second try before replacement back Nico Scheepers kicked a late penalty for the hosts.

SCORERS

Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Andries Ferreira, Kabamba Floors; Conversions: Riaan Smit (2); Penalties: Smit (5), Nico Scheepers.

Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: CJ Stander (2); Conversion: Louis Fouche; Penalties: Fouche (2).

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