Cheetahs hold out against Griffons
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs were given a good run for their money by neighbours the Griffons before running out 38-24 (halftime 17-10) winners in their Vodacom Cup match played at the Clive Solomon Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
It was the Cheetahs fourth win in seven matches and with just one round-robin game to play, they move up to third place in the South section of the competition, behind Western Province and the Pampas XV.
For the Griffons, this was their sixth defeat in seven matches but on a cloudy and warm afternoon in the country’s judicial capital they gave as good as they got against their southern Free State rivals in front of a healthy crowd of 4,000.
Last year’s beaten finalists scored five tries to their Griffons’ four, with scrumhalf Enrico Acker and blindside flanker Willie Britz both claiming a brace.
The Griffons grabbed a bonus point as reward for their efforts, with their four tries shared among wings Ricardo Pietersen and Shane Hancke, flyhalf Tertius Maarman, and centre Thabang Molefe.
The Cheetahs opened the scoring via a penalty from the ever-reliable Louis Strydom before tries to Britz and Acker gave them a 17-0 lead.
Molefe grabbed a try back for the visitors, before Pietersen danced over to make it 17-10. And all of this inside the first 25 minutes!
There would be no more scoring until the 48th minute, when Maarman broke through to score a try converted by Tiaan van Wyk to level the scores.
But Free State’s Morgan Newman struck back soon after, diving over for his team’s third try before Acker added his second on the hour mark to make it 31-17.
Britz posted his second with seven minutes remaining but it was Hancke who had the last say, scoring a consolation try on full time to a respectability on the scoreboard that was never in doubt on the field itself.
Cheetahs 38 – Tries:
Enrico Acker (2), Morgan Newman, Willie Britz (2). Conversions: Johan Goosen (3), Louis Strydom (2). Penalty: Strydom.
Griffons 24 – Tries:
Thabang Molefe, Tertius Maarman, Shane Hancke, Ricardo Pietersen. Conversions: Tiaan van Wyk (2).