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Rugby | Currie Cup

Griquas end Cheetahs winning streak



The Tafel Lager Griquas ended the Toyota Free Cheetahs' unbeaten run in this year's Currie Cup when they beat them 25-30 (Halftime: 17-6) at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The home side dominated from the onset, however, both sides scored three tries each in a highly entertaining match. Tries for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs were scored via a brace from Niel Jordaan and a solo try by Makazole Mapimpi while Griquas' five pointers came courtesy of Andre Swarts and a brace from replacement back rower De Wet Kruger.

Despite a low-scoring opening 20 minutes, the match was filled with fast-paced passages of play from both sides. The home side used their possession and territory effectively, taking a 10-6 lead heading into the last 15 minutes of the opening half.

Captain Jordaan rounded off a quick tap-and-go by Blitzbok Rosko Speckman, who combined brilliantly with Clayton Blommetjies on attack. Ryno Eksteen added the extras along with an earlier penalty conversion for the Cheetahs. Griquas pivot Andre Swarts' two penalties reduced the home side's lead to four points, 10-6.

The men from Bloemfontein looked much more confident with ball in hand as the halftime break approached. Jordaan went over for his second try of the match after the home side outmuscled their opposition at a five-metre scrum. Eksteen's fine form off the tee continued, extending the home side's lead to 17-6.

Enterprising play from both sides kept the few hundred loyal Bloemfontein supporters entertained. But a disallowed Speckman try was the closest any team came to scoring in the last 10 minutes and the score remained on 17-6 as players halftime break was welcomed.

Mapimpi received a yellow card within minutes of the second half restart, Swarts ghosting the Cheetahs' defence before going over for his first Currie Cup try. The conversion made it a four-point game in favour of the home side, 17-13.

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A brilliant break and cleverly placed grubber kick by fullback Eric Zana resulted in a Griquas scrum five metres from the Cheetahs' tryline. Replacement number eight De Wet Kruger was rewarded with the try off the back of the scrum. Swarts popped the conversion over, giving the visitors the lead for the first time in the match, 17-20.

A 68th minutes penalty off the boot of Clayton Blommetjies levelled the scores at 20-20, as the final 10 minutes of the match drew closer. Replacement pivot George Whitehead cancelled out Blommetjies' penalty and the visitors restored their three-point lead, 20-23.

The home side thought the result was sealed when Mapimpi collected a cleverly placed grubber kick from Rayno Benjamin to dot down. Blommetjies missed the conversion from a very challenging angle, leaving it at 25-23. But it was the visitors who continued their fine Currie Cup form when De Wet Kruger went over for his second try, Whitehead taking his time, running down the clock in the process, to add the extras, 25-30.

SCORERS:

Free State Cheetahs - Tries: Niell Jordaan (2), Makazole Mapimpi; Cons: Ryno Eksteen (2); Pens: Eksteen, Clayton Blommetjies

Griquas - Tries: Andre Swarts, De Wet Kruger (2); Cons: Swarts (2), George Whitehead; Pens: Swarts (2), Whitehead



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