Cheetahs cruise into semifinals with Sharks rout
MATCH REPORT: The Cheetahs reclaimed the top spot on the Currie Cup standings and a home semifinal with a 44-15 rout of the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The hosts outscored the visitors by six tries to two in a game that was more one-sided than the scoreline suggests.
It is a result that means only the Bulls can still catch the Cheetahs at the top.
The Cheetahs were clearly the better team in the first half, but their performance was far from perfect – with too many costly errors allowing the Sharks opportunities to get into the game.
The home team appeared over-eager and too rushed when they should have been more clinical when in possession.
After the break, the Cheetahs went into cruise mode, but could still add another two tries to the four they scored in the first half.
The Cheetahs made all the early play, with lock Victor Sekekete finishing of the complete team try after 11 fearsome phases.
There remained more than seven minutes on the clock before the Sharks had their first scoring opportunity – Henry Chamberlain landing a penalty from 40 metres out.
Minutes later the Cheetahs crossed the line again – some sublime Rosko Specman magic setting up the opportunity for Marnus van der Merwe.
The Sharks then exploited some weak Cheetahs defence, captain Jeremy Ward sending scrumhalf Cameron Wright over – making it 10-12 after 15 minutes.
The Cheetahs continued to pile on the pressure, but a litany of errors saw a number of chances going to waste.
Just on the half-hour, the Cheetahs managed to put enough phases together, with some sublime inter-passing putting fullback Cohen Jasper over for another great team try – 17-10.
The bonus-point try came after the half-time hooter had already sounded, the Cheetahs putting enough phases together before flank Andisa Ntsila went over – 24-10 at the break.
It took the Cheetahs just seven minutes after the break to give the scoreboard operators some exercise – No.8 Mihlali Mosi streaking over down the left wing after another [period of phase play and great inter-passing.
In the 52nd minute, the Cheetahs were reduced to 14 men when replacement prop Cameron Dawson was yellow carded for driving in on a support player in the line-out. From the subsequent penalty and maul, replacement hooker Dan Jooste got the second try for the Sharks.
The Cheetahs replied with a Ruan Pienaar penalty while being a man down – 34-15.
Both teams now cleared their benches, Siyabonga Masuku taking over the kicking duties from Pienaar – who was subbed – and adding three more points.
That was followed by a powerful maul and a try for replacement hooker Louis van der Westhuizen – 44-15, which was also the full-time score.
For the Cheetahs
Tries: Sekekete, Van der Merwe, Jasper, Ntsila, Mosi, Van der Westhuizen
Cons: Pienaar 3, Masuku
Pens: Pienaar, Masuku
For the Sharks
Tries: Wright, Jooste
Yellow card: Cameron Dawson (Cheetahs, 52 – foul play, driving in on lifter in line-out)
Cheetahs: 15 Cohen Jasper, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 David Brits, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Siyabonga Masuku, 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain), 8 Mihlali Mosi, 7 Andisa Ntsila, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Aidon Davis, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Cameron Dawson, 17 Louis van der Westhuizen, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Ockie Barnard, 20 Jeandré Rudolph, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 Reinhardt Fortuin, 23 Chris Smit.
Sharks: 15 Nevaldo Fleurs, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Jeremy Ward (captain), 12 Murray Koster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Henry Chamberlain, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Mpilo Gumede, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Emile van Heerden, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Blaine Golden, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Nick Hatton, 21 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 22 Joaquin Bonilla, 23 Ethan Fisher.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Philip Kotze
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen