Port Elizabeth - Eastern Province gave the Cheetahs a hefty scare as they held them to a 13-9 scoreline in their pre-season friendly at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Mighty Elephants, who were using the friendly to push their claims for a place in the Super 14, defended as if their lives depended on it, and disrupted the Cheetah game plan throughout.
The Cheetahs will be unhappy with their own performance, which was below their standard, and will have much food for thought as they prepare for this year’s Super 14 competition.
With a side relatively close to the one which will start against the Bulls on February 12 in their opening game, the Cheetahs made way too many mistakes on the evening and allowed their opposition to disrupt them throughout.
Having said that, Cheetahs manager Eugene van Wyk concedes that the Elephants played above themselves and certainly made the scoreline fair in front of a good crowd of 15 000.
One aspect that coach Naka Drotske will be happy with, is the performance of young flyhalf Sias Ebersohn. Ebersohn got the backline moving a lot smoother and scored the only try of the game, finishing off a backline move which started when the Elephants failed to kick the ball out.
For the Cheetahs, their loose trio of Ashley Johnson, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brussow stood out, while Eastern Province’s captain De Wet Barry and flank Zolani Mofu were the pick of the players for the home side.
Tewis de Bruyn kicked the conversion for Ebersohn’s try, as well as two penalties while EP’s points came through three penalties from the boot of Justin Peach.
“It was a lot closer than we would have liked,” admitted Van Wyk afterwards, “We made a lot of mistakes but we must give EP credit for the way they played against us. They certainly gave us a good game.”
Try: Sias Ebersohn
Conversion: Tewis de Bruyn
Penalties: De Bruyn (2)
Penalties: Justin Peach (3)