Cheetahs beat Pumas in 12-try thriller
CURRIE CUP MATCH REPORT: The Free State Cheetahs outplayed the Pumas to win 45-34 in an entertaining match in Nelspruit on Wednesday.
The result cemented the Pro14-bound and defending Currie Cup champion Cheetahs' position at the top of the standings with a full-house 15 points from three outings,.
The Cheetahs outscored the Pumas by seven tries to five, but had to hold on in the second half - as the home team came back from a 10-38 deficit to outscore the visitors 24-7 after the break.
Justin van Staden kicked an early penalty for the Nelspruit-based side, but the Cheetahs raced out to a 38-3 lead as they dominated the first half.
A late first-half try saw the Pumas gain some confidence and after the break they played like men possessed.
Converted tries from lock Reniel Hugo, wing Makazole Mapimpi and centre Ryno Benjamin saw the Cheetahs race into 21-3 lead in the first quarter.
Mapimpi's try was the stand-out moment among many highlights. The ball went through several pairs of hands in the build-up, before the flyer found himself in space just outside the Pumas' 22-metre area and outpaced the cover defence.
The Pumas were dealt a setback in the 29th minute, when Jerome Pretorius was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock on deep inside his half.
The Cheetahs made full use of their numerical advantage and hooker Jacques du Toit barged over off the back of a line-out drive inside the Pumas' 22-metre area.
Jaer then crossed for two tries in quick succession, which meant the visitors led 38-3 by the 38th minute. Ruwellyn Isbell's failure to ground the ball behind his tryline resulted in Jaer's second.
The Pumas struck back just before the break when Isbell made amend to beat a couple of defenders before scoring next to the posts.
The Pumas came out firing in the second half and were rewarded with two tries to prop Kwezi Mona.
Niell Jordaan scored the Cheetahs' seventh try, before the Pumas responded with another two through Frank Herne and Jerome Pretorius.
The hosts lost Devon Williams to the sin bin late in the game for a deliberate knock-on.
Mapimpi should have scored in the last play to get Free State to 50, but grounded the ball on his foot over the tryline and lost control of it.
Man of the match: In such an entertaining game there would be many candidates. For the Pumas there is Jerome Pretorius, Hennie Skorbinski, Justin van Staden, Stefan Ungerer, Thembelani Bholi and Jeremy Jordaan - to mention but a few. Rosco Specman, William Small-Smith, Makazole Mapimpi, Shaun Venter, Jasper Wiese and Niell Jordaan were among the Cheetahs who put their hands up. However, our award goes to Pumas prop Kwezi Mona, a workhorse that was rewarded for his efforts with two tries.
For the Pumas:
Tries:Isbell, Mona 2, Herne, Pretorius
Cons: Van Staden 3
Pen: Van Staden
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries:Hugo, Mapimpi, Benjamin, Du Toit, Jaer 2, Jordaan
Cons: Marais 4, Blommetjies
Yellow cards: Jerome Pretorius (Pumas, 29 - cynical foul, deliberate knock-down), Devon Williams (Pumas, 78 - cynical foul, deliberate knock-on)
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Jerome Pretorius, 13 Gerrit Smith, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Lambert Groenewald, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jeremy Jordaan, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Kwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Chris Cloete, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Neil Maritz.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rosco Specman, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Niell Jordaan (captain), 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Erich de Jager, 17 Joseph Dweba, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Junior Pokomela, 20 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 21 Jacobus Jonker, 22 Malcolm Jaer.
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant referees: Ricus van der Hoven, Alex Jonker
TMO: Johan Greeff