Free State far too strong for Leopards
Leopards struggled with the relentless onslaught of Free State, as they ran in 13 tries to two.
It was always going to be an uphill battle for Leopards.
As expected, Free State were the first team on the scoreboard. With five minutes on the clock, Free State's Mario Vieira slotted over a penalty. 3-0.
As the match progressed, Leopards appeared very optimistic. Making some good ground in very hot weather conditions.
A counterattack by Free State resulted in Juan Venter's try on ten minutes. He received a great offload and the flank went over the try-line to score the first try of the match. 8-0.
Leopards defence was a shambles, as great interchanging play saw Free State cross the try-line the second time. Rikus Pretorius went over in the corner to write his name on the score-sheet. 13-0 on 15 minutes.
Leopards appeared promising on attack, but it was their defence that was troublesome.
Kyle Kermis's speed and big Gideon Beukes's bolstering strength proved too difficult to control.
And Free State's third try also came from a counterattack. Janco van Heyningen outraced defenders, running more than 30 metres to score, while Vieira added the extras. 20-0.
Leopards finally had a point-scoring opportunity when they won a penalty inside the Free State's 22. But unfortunately for them, the ball missed the poles. The score remained 20-0.
Minutes later Free State got the ball in the hand and with great offloads they sent the No.8 Dian Schoonees on his way for the fourth try. 25-0.
With 30 minutes done and dusted, the Leopards' desperation and rushed attacks resulted in easy penalties for the Free State side.
They gaveaway a penalty inside their own 22. Free State's scrumhalf Rewan Kruger took full advantage as he punished the Leopards when he dived over for the Free State's fifth try. Vieira converted. 32-0.
The tries started to rain in.
And on 32 minutes the team scored their sixth try David Kriel the man that went over the chalk, 37-0.
Even though Leopards conceded six tries, they ended the first half on a positive note. Forcing Free State to defend deep inside their own half.
But much like the story of the first half, Kermis snatched the loose ball and the counterattack was in full force. With loads of support on either side, Kriel hoisted himself between the poles. Vieira could not miss from the easy spot. 44-0 at halftime.
The second half was more of the same story – Leopards doing the running and Free State doing all the scoring.
Within a minute of the second half Free State scored a try. Gideon Beukes forced his way over the try-line. Vieria slotted them into the half century. 51-0.
Despite conceding 51 points, Leopards made good ground and got themselves in the Free State's 22. But unfortunatly for them it was the last 50/50 passes that kept them on the backfoot.
Every Leopards attack was eclipsed with Free State try. Rikus Pretorius's second try saw him take on two defenders to go over. Vieira added the extras, 58-0.
Free State started to enjoy themselves. And one could see why, because minutes later the man in orange visited the visitors' try-line again, Mfez Moyo dotted down in the corner for the five pointer. It was a relatively difficult kick from the touchline, but Viera made it look easy as his team marched to 65-0 with 46 minutes gone.
Just two minutes shy from the 50-minute mark the Leopards produced yet again a gutsy attack in the hunt for some points. They managed to build phases and kept the ball in hand as the forwards gained some ground. Eventually Free State's defence folded and André Kock scored. Gerhard Fourie added the much needed two points. 65-7 and the Leopards were finally on the board.
Celebrations were short lived as a classic show-and-go by the scrumhalf Rewan Kruger sneaked in a try from the blindside. Vieira kept the scoreboard ticking. 72-7 on 52 minutes.
The match well in the bag for Free State, the Leopards still showed signs of playing some positive rugby. After they won a penalty on the Free State's 22, they opted to kick to touch. From the line-out the Leopards retained the ball and continued to put pressure on the defence.
Eventually the Leopards were rewarded as Riaan van der Spuy scored their second try. Gerhard Fourie added the extra two points. Even though it did not influence the outcome, it at least gave the side something to celebrate. Leopards trailed 14-72.
Free State had to have the last laugh. In the final minute of the match they scored two tries.
TheLeopards protested greatly against the first one but in the end it stood as Aya Ntaba's try, while Kriel added his third that put the final nail in the coffin.
Tries: André Kock, Riaan van der Spuy
Cons: Gerhard Fourie 2
For Free State:
Tries: Juan Venter, Janco van Heyningen , Rikus Pretorius 2, Dian Schoonees, Rewan Kruger 2, David Kriel 3, Gideon Beukes, Mfez Moyo, Aya Ntaba
Cons: Mario Vieira 9
Pen: Mario Vieira
Free State: Edward Davids, Matthew Wesells, Gideon Beukes, Jaco van Tonder, Brentley Marais, Teboho Rampai, Thian du Randt, Dian Schoonees, Rewan Kruger, Mario Viera, Kyle Kermis, Rikus Pretorius, Janco van Heyningen, Mfezeko Moyo, David Kriel.
Replacements: Tristain Spies, Naudé Naudé, Kagiso Marumo, Ayabonga Ntaba, Juan Venter, Keaton Swart, Rallston Dreyer, Gomolemo Matlho.
Leopards: Simbonile Mnyazana, Stafnus Mare, Marthinus de Villiers, Nathan Jordan, Christopher Kemm, Sonwabile Mangaliso, Andries Foucge, Tiaan de Toit, Pierre van der Spuy, André Kock, Dane Booysen, Yamkela Nyebe, Rasmus Breedt, Joaqium de Jenga, Gerhard Fourie.
Replacements: Rudolf Hattingh, Pieter Carrol, Graivian Smith, Zimasa Nokama, Sosikela Khuselo, GJ Jansen van Rensburg, Lionel George.
Referee: Mpho Matsaung
Assistant referees: Ricus van der Hoven, Beattie Blake
Television match official: Lourens van der Merwe