Johannesburg - The Free State Cheetahs staved off a late fightback from the Golden Lions to come away
with a 30-29 (half-time 13-16) victory in their Currie Cup opener at Ellis Park
The visitors scored four tries for a bonus point, while the Lions had to be
content with a single point.
The Cheetahs' forwards made all the difference as they gave their backline
ample go-forward ball to attack the line.
VIDEO: Lions v Cheetahs, highlights
The lock pairing of Waltie Vermeulen and Lood de Jager, coupled with a
tireless effort from their loose trio, had the better of a young Lions pack and
set the stage for some exciting running from the Bloemfontein side.
The Lions, however, drew first blood with flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff converting
his first penalty of the match.
Boshoff produced a top-class kicking performance - an indication he had no
intention of going quietly or merely handing over the No 10 jersey to Elton
The Cheetahs scored the first try three minutes later, thanks to the vision
of Johann Sadie and a display of individual brilliance by Robert Ebersohn.
Sadie spotted space on the outside and put the ball on his right foot where
Ebersohn did well to snap up the ball before it went over the line.
Ebersohn then darted for the corner where a defender caught up with him but
the nippy centre dived for the line and miraculously stayed in-field to score.
While Riaan Smit hooked his conversion attempt to the left, Boshoff had no
problems with his second shot at goal to restore the Lions’ lead in the 13th
Five minutes later, the lead changed hands again as Smit succeeded with a
long-range penalty attempt.
Shortly before the half-hour mark, the Cheetahs were denied their second try
when the lineout throw to De Jager did not travel five metres before he crossed
The Cheetahs made up for it when Boom Prinsloo scored from a rampant driving
maul resulting from a lineout which started on the Lions' 22m line. Smit’s
conversion attempt hit the upright.
The hosts bounced back immediately afterwards and showed some muscle for the
first time in the match, with a few good phases to set up a try for Stokkies
Dylan des Fountain went through a narrow gap to find Hanekom on his inside
for the try, with Boshoff converting to level the scores at 13-13.
Two minutes before the half-time break, Boshoff slotted over another penalty
conversion to hand his side a three-point lead.
The Cheetahs opened the scoring in the second half as they grinded their way
towards the tryline.
Philip van der Walt picked and went but fell short but the Lions fumbled the
ball on the line. Sarel Pretorius pounced on it to add the five-pointer and
Smit converted for a four-point lead.
Boshoff added another penalty for the Lions before Sadie crossed the
whitewash in the 54th minute for the Cheetahs' fourth try.
Elgar Watts, who had taken over the kicking duties, was on target with his
shot at goal.
The home side then launched a valiant fightback as they scored twice in
Willie Britz touched down in the 63rd minute, although Jantjies, who
replaced Boshoff, missed the conversion.
Watts then gave the Cheetahs a slight cushion with a penalty conversion
before Ruan Dreyer scored to bring the Lions within a point of victory.
Jantjies’s conversion kick, which would have put his side in the lead, fell
short and, despite threatening attacks, the Lions ran out of time.
Penalties: Marnitz Boshoff (4)
Tries: Stokkies Hanekom, Willie Britz, Ruan Dreyer
Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Robert Ebersohn, Boom Prinsloo, Sarel Pretorius, Johann Sadie
Conversions: Riaan Smit, Elgar Watts
Penalties: Smit, Watts
15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Guy Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Derick Minnie (captain), 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Stephan Greef, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Lambert Groenewald, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Cronje/Robert de Bruyn
Free State Cheetahs:
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo (captain), 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Oupa Mohoje, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Joubert Engelbrecht, 22 Piet Lindeque