Dramatic win for Griquas in Bloemfontein
Dramatic win for Griquas in BloemfonteinSHARE
Griquas trailed 6-17 at the half-time break and then scored 14 unanswered points – with tries by Andrew Swarts and De Wet Kruger.
Clayton Blommetjies and George Whitehead exchanged penalties, before a Makazole Mapimpi put the home team back in the lead.
However, Griquas bounced back with a try by De Wet Kruger 90 seconds from full-time to claim a dramatic win – ending the defending champion Cheetahs' unbeaten run in the competition.
Despite their set-piece dominance, especially in the scrums, the Cheetahs struggled to find their usually fluent rhythm.
Try-scoring opportunities were hard to come by.
Griquas, with their push-defence, forced the Cheetahs into an unusual high number of errors and left their dangerous backs with now space of time.
The home team's discipline was also unusually poor – conceding penalties for silly things like screaming at the referee.
Despite a low-scoring opening 20 minutes, the match was filled with fast-paced passages of play from both sides.
The home side used their possession and territory effectively, taking a 10-6 lead heading into the last 15 minutes of the opening half.
Captain Jordaan rounded off a quick tap-and-go by BlitzBok Rosko Specman, who combined brilliantly with Clayton Blommetjies on attack. Ryno Eksteen added the extras along with an earlier penalty conversion for the Cheetahs.
Griquas pivot Andre Swarts' two penalties reduced the home side's lead to four points, 10-6.
The men from Bloemfontein looked much more confident with ball in hand as the half-time break approached.
Jordaan went over for his second try of the match after the home side out-muscled their opposition at a five-metre scrum. Eksteen's fine form off the tee continued, extending the home side's lead to 17-6.
A disallowed Specman try was the closest any team came to scoring in the last 10 minutes of the first half.
Mapimpi received a yellow card within minutes of the second half restart, Swarts ghosting the Cheetahs' defence before going over for his first Currie Cup try. The conversion made it a four-point game in favour of the home side, 17-13.
A brilliant break and cleverly placed grubber kick by fullback Eric Zana resulted in a Griquas scrum five metres from the Cheetahs' tryline.
Replacement loose forward De Wet Kruger was rewarded with the try off the back of the scrum. Swarts popped the conversion over, giving the visitors the lead for the first time in the match, 17-20.
A 68th-minute penalty off the boot of Clayton Blommetjies levelled the scores at 20-20, as the final 10 minutes of the match drew closer.
Replacement pivot George Whitehead cancelled out Blommetjies' penalty and the visitors restored their three-point lead, 20-23.
The home side thought the result was sealed when Mapimpi collected a cleverly placed grubber kick from Ryno Benjamin to dot down. Blommetjies missed the conversion from a very challenging angle, leaving it at 25-23.
But it was the visitors who continued their fine Currie Cup form when De Wet Kruger went over for his second try, Whitehead taking his time, running down the clock in the process, to add the extras, 25-30.
Man of the match: Forwards Armand Koster, Daniel Hugo, Jasper Wiese and captain Niell Jordaan did yeoman work for the Cheetahs. Shaun McDonald was at his bruising best for Griquas, Eric Zana was impressive at fullback and flyhalf Andrew Swarts, despite the odd error, was Griquas. However, our award goes to Griquas loose forward De Wet Kruger – who made a massive impact in his 30-odd minutes as a second-half replacement, including the match-winning try.
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Jordaan 2, Mapimpi
Cons: Eksteen 2
Pens: Eksteen, Blommetjies
Tries: Swarts, D Kruger 2
Cons: Swarts 2, Whitehead
Pens: Swarts 2, Whitehead
Yellow card: Makazole Mapimpi (Free State Cheetahs, 43 – foul play, pushing an opponent off the ball),
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rosco Specman, 13 Jacobus Jonker, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Ryno Eksteen, 9 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Niell Jordaan (captain), 5 Daniel Hugo, 4 Armand Koster, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 17 Joseph Dweba, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Chris Dry, 20 Juan-Philip Smith, 21 Sergeal Petersen, 22 Malcolm Jaer.
Griquas: 15 Eric Zana, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Adriaan Coertzen (captain), 10 Andre Swarts, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Kevin Kaba, 7 Shaun McDonald, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Floris Pelser, 4 Wandile Putuma, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Devon Martinus.
Replacements: 16 Abraham le Roux, 17 Stephan Kotze, 18 Sintu Manjezi, 19 DeWet Kruger, 20 Renier Botha, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Christopher Bosch.
Referee: Quinton Immelman.
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Anevuyo Fakade
TMO: Marius Jonker