FS overcome Welwitschias - and lightning!
The Free State Cheetahs overcame a game Namibia Welwitschias team as well as a 15-minute delay because of lightning to run out 29-13 (halftime 15-3) winners in their Vodacom Cup match played at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.
In a match in which the elements seemed intent on stealing the show, a heavy downpour after 20 minutes produced a soaking pitch before thunder and lightning five minutes after the interval saw the players leave the field for nearly 15 minutes while waiting for the very real danger to pass.
But there was also some rugby played, and the 1 000-strong crowd who turned up to see whether their team would pick up their first win of the season were treated to a brave, but ultimately losing, effort.
For Free State, who beat the Leopards 38-24 last weekend, this was their third win in four matches and most certainly the toughest.
The visitors scored four tries to one but this didn’t tell the full story, as the Cheetahs were restricted to just two first-half tries thanks to the same grim determination that characterised the Welwitschias in their 56-9 loss to Western Province last week.
Left wing AJ Coertzen opened the scoring in the third minute with a well taken try, converted by flyhalf Louis Strydom, who also kicked a first-half penalty.
The Free Staters’ only other points of the opening stanza came by way of good interplay that saw fullback Riaan Smit go over after 12 minutes.
And so it stayed until the second half, when eighthman Brendon Groenewald’s try was overshadowed by the weather gods.
Trailing 22-3 and with the thunderclouds having dissipated, the home side fought their way back when skipper and No 8 PJ van Lill crashed over for flyhalf Chrysander Botha to convert.
Botha added a penalty with 17 minutes left to narrow the deficit to just nine points, but the Free Staters secured the win when scrumhalf Enrico Acker went over in the 69th minute to seal it.
Welwitschias 13 – Try: PJ van Lill. Conversion: Chrysander Botha. Penalties: Botha (2).
Free State 29 – Tries: AJ Coertzen, Riaan Smit, Brendon Groenewald, Enrico Acker. Conversions: Louis Strydom (3). Penalty: Strydom.