Prop's hat-trick gives Cheetahs first win
Prop Coenie Oosthuizen scored a hat-trick of tries to help the Free State Cheetahs to a 33-26 (halftime 14-6) win over neighbours Griquas in Bloemfontein on Friday night.
It was the Cheetahs first win of the season after they lost 25-11 at home to Western Province last week in a scrappy season-opener.
For Griquas, it was their first loss after recording a hard-fought 40-34 bonus-point win over the Sharks in Kimberley in round one.
The final score might indicate that this was a close-run affair, but in truth the result was never in doubt, with the Cheetahs managing to keep their opponents at arm’s length for most of the match.
The home side opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Griquas scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius’s lazy pass was intercepted by winger Philip Snyman, who, in turn, put centre Robert Ebersohn away for a clear run.
Flyhalf Louis Strydom slotted the first of four conversions before Naas Olivier and Riaan Viljoen cut the deficit with penalties in the 13th and 27th minutes respectively.
Oosthuizen barged over from close range in the 34th minute for his first try to give his side a 14-6 lead at the break.
The score originated from a lineout and a clean break in midfield by eighthman Ashley Johnson, who put Snyman away down the right-hand side. From the resultant try-line ruck, Oosthuizen had the strength to burrow over despite the attentions of a handful of defenders.
The man-mountain loosehead notched his second within two minutes of the restart before newly-capped Springbok wing Bjorn Basson gave Griquas a lifeline with a well-executed try after 50 minutes.
But the Cheetahs weren’t to be denied, wing Jongi Nokwe going over for the bonus-point try on the hour to make it 26-13 before Oosthuizen swivelled his way across the line in the 66th minute for his third, which sparked the biggest cheer of the night from the disappointing crowd.
Pretorius kept his team in the hunt with a cheeky try with four minutes remaining, following a botched Free State lineout. Olivier then converted to make it a 10-point ball game.
But try as they might, the visitors could not cross the line again although they did pick up a valuable bonus point when Olivier calmly slotted a last-second penalty to bring his side to within seven points.
Free State 33 – Tries: Robert Ebersohn, Coenie Oosthuizen (3), Jongi Nokwe. Conversions: Louis Strydom (4).
Griquas 26 – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Sarel Pretorius. Conversions: Naas Olivier (2). Penalties: Olivier (3), Riaan Viljoen.