Johannesburg - The Golden Lions held off a ferocious charge
by the Free State Cheetahs to claim a 43-33 victory in their Currie Cup
semi-final at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Johannesburg-based side have in the process booked a
home final date with Western Provinces next weekend in a repeat of last year’s final.
The Free State Cheetahs nearly caused a major upset as they
had the Lions, who were the overwhelming favourites going into the match, under
the cosh for extended periods in the match.
The match nearly started with a disaster for the Lions as
they got pinned in their 22 from the kick-off when flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff
passed the ball into the posts.
They managed to regain the ball and exited to breathe a sigh
of relief as they received a brief respite.
Five minutes later the Cheetahs did manage to get over the
whitewash when standout centre Francois Venter bounced off a tackle and avoided
another to score, with flyhalf Niel Marais missing the conversion.
The Lions responded 10 minutes later when they set up the
rolling maul with influential captain Jaco Kriel scoring from the back while
Boshoff converted for the two-point lead.
The visitors reclaimed the lead when Marais slotted a
penalty on the quarter mark before adding another a minute later to extend
their advantage to four points.
Boshoff got his side within a point of the Cheetahs thanks
to a penalty goal in the 26th minute before the Bloemfontein side scored their
second try three minutes later when Boom Prinsloo touched down from the back of
a rolling maul.
Shortly before the teams went off for the break Boshoff
added another penalty conversion with the Cheetahs leading by three points
The tit-for-tat battle continued in the second half with
Lions lock Lourens Erasmus striking the first blow when he sold a dummy to
evade the defenders to score while Boshoff converted with the lead swinging in
the hosts’ favour.
The Cheetahs replied with their third five-pointer of the
game when Gerhard Olivier collected a Sergeal Petersen pass that went to
They then took an eight-point lead in the 56th minute when
Marais received the ball from a scrum where he stepped to the right to score
and convert his try.
The Lions then started to claw their way back which started
with a penalty conversion by Boshoff in the 59th minute.
Ten minutes later the match swung further in their favour as
Boom Prinsloo received his marching orders to spend 10 minutes on the sideline.
The Cheetahs then conceded a penalty try thanks to a scrum
infringement which Boshoff converted before the Free Staters pulled back
Petersen, who was a constant threat for the Cheetahs pierced
the defence before off-loading to a speeding Sias Ebersohn on his inside for
the try. Ebersohn though missed the easy conversion attempt.
Kriel then added his second try of the evening thanks to a
brilliant run down the touchline where he bounced a tackle and avoiding two
more to score.
The Cheetahs were then reduced to 13 men when Maks van Dyk
was also shown a yellow card with Boshoff stretching the lead with two more
penalty conversions to take the game away from the visitors.
Tries: Penalty Try, Lourens Erasmus, Jaco Kriel (2). Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (4). Penalties: Boshoff (5).
Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Niel Marais, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Venter, Gerhard Olivier, Sias Ebersohn. Conversion: Marais. Penalties: Marais (2).
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Steph de Witt, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcom Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Fabian Booysen,19 Kwagga Smith, 20 Jaco van der Walt, 21 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Sampie Mastriet
Free State Cheetahs
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit,1 BG Uys
Substitutes: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Gerhard Olivier, 20 Ruan van Rensburg, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 AJ Coertzen