Cheetahs hammer Leopards
Bloemfontein - The Toyota Free State Cheetahs were not extended as they beat the Platinum Leopards 40-12 (half-time 35-5) in their Absa Currie Cup match in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Excellent work by the Free State backline saw five tries run in during the first half, but the second half was an extremely dire affair as Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske emptied his bench, perhaps with half an eye on next week's match against the Blue Bulls, who will be much tougher opposition.
The Cheetahs made a fine start to the match when prop WP Nel muscled his way over for the opening try in the third minute, and skipper Andries Strauss quickly followed up with a try of his own.
Flyhalf Sias Ebersohn converted both tries before leaving the field injured, wing Riaan Smit moving into the number 10 jersey. If anything, the disruption was beneficial for the home side as Smit brought tremendous pace and vision to the position.
Smit was also in fine form with the boot, converting wing Ryno Benjamin's try from the touchline, although the former Springbok Sevens star was an embarrassed shade of pink after he botched two earlier try-scoring opportunities.
Left wing Wynand Willis pulled a try back for the Leopards, but centre Corne Uys and wing Philip Burger then raised the roof of the Free State Stadium as they went over for tries in the last 10 minutes of the first half to claim the bonus point and all but seal victory for the Cheetahs.
The second half was a sorry advertisement, however, for how the Cheetahs can play, as all seven reserves had a run out of at least 20 minutes. There was no grandstand finish and the festive crowd fell silent as an extremely scrappy final 40 minutes was produced.
A period of extended Leopards pressure saw loosehead prop BG Uys crash over for a try, before Free State replacement centre Phillip Snyman had the final say with a try five minutes from the end.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs - Tries: WP Nel, Andries Strauss, Ryno Benjamin, Corne Uys, Philip Burger, Phillip Snyman. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (2), Riaan Smit (3).
Platinum Leopards - Tries: Wynand Willis, BG Uys. Conversion: Clayton Durand.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Andries Strauss (captain), 11 Ryno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Johan Wessels, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Michael van Vuuren, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Substitutes: 16 PW van Vuuren, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Pieter Myburgh, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Philip Burger.
Leopards: 15 George Tossel, 14 Danie Dames, 13 Joubert Engelbrecht, 12 Charl Weideman, 11 Vainon Willis, 10 Clayton Durand, 9 Whestley Moolman, 8 Morne Hanekom, 7 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 6 Renaldo Bothma, 5 Roan van Heerden, 4 Brendon Snyman, 3 Stephan Bezuidenhout, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 BG Uys
Substitutes: 16 Chrisstoffel Johannes Duvenage, 17 Bêrend Botha, 18 Thabo Mamojele, 19 Christo van Niekerk, 20 Theo van Wyk, 21 Walter Venter, 22 Hoffman Maritz