Cape Town - The Cheetahs' second-half revival led them to score five tries to secure a 44-16 bonus-point win over Boland in Wellington in their first Currie Cup First Division match.
Boland could not quite keep up with the Cheetahs' intensity in the second half. The two sides were neck and neck in the first half, with it finishing 9-10 to the visitors. Cheetahs coach Franco Smith must have had a stern talking to his side as they came out firing in the second half, scoring two tries in quick succession through Raymond Rhule and then William Small-Smith in the first 10 minutes.
The win sees the Cheetahs tie with the Bulls and the Sharks at the top of the table after they also had big wins on Friday. It sees the men from Bloemfontein get an early leg up over Western Province and the rest of the smaller franchises. Since Boland were not within seven points, it means they leave the game with nothing to show after re-entering the competition after having last playing in 2009.
The Cheetahs started off the first half with dominance, after a penalty, and converted try but Nico Scheepers' boot kept Boland in the game as he made it a one point game as the two teams headed into the change rooms.
Tshego Nché had an incredible game. The young utility prop, played both sides of the scrum, made some try saving tackles while running like a centre in the midfield. The Bloemfontein-born bruiser seemed to break the line at will, as he ran his opposition ragged.
Penalty: Scheepers (3)
Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Petersen, Rhule, Small-Smith, Venter, Venter
Conversions: Zeilinga (3)
Penalty: Zeilinga (3)
Boland: 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Sergio Torrens, 13 Ryan Nell (c), 12 Christopher Bosch, 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Adriaan Carelse, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Zandré Jordaan, 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Kenan Cronje, 5 Hanna Kisthoff, 4 Shaun McDondald, 3 Basil Short, 2 Clemen Lewis, 1 SP Wessels
Replacements: 16 Chadley Wenn, 17 Francois Hanekom, 18 Joubert Horn, 19 Chaney Willemse, 20 Jovelian De Koker, 21 William Van Wyk, 22 Craig Pheiffer
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Neill Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Tshego Nché
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Justin Basson, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Ryno Benjamin