Cheetahs rout Sharks in Bloem blow-out
CURRIE CUP MATCH REPORT: The Cheetahs put their campaign back on track with an impressive bonus-point win over a decidedly unimpressive Sharks team in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
Outscoring the Sharks by four tries to one, the 37-10 blow-out saw the Cheetahs close the gap to the fourth-placed Sharks to within two points on the standings.
With just two rounds remaining, the race for a top-four finish is going to be intense and intriguing in the next fortnight.
The Cheetahs’ rout started with their dominance of the scrums – winning three scrum penalties and a free-kick in the first half and a few more after the break.
Their mauls (on attack and defence) were also impressive, while at the breakdown they made life decidedly unpleasant for the visitors and their defence was near impenetrable – especially near their own line.
The Sharks certainly did not aid their own cause with the alarming number of errors, constantly coughing up possession – the main culprits being big-name Springboks.
Bulls top the table with 35 points and seem set to finish first, leaving Western Province (31), Lions (29), Sharks (28) and Cheetahs (26) fighting for three semifinals places with two matches each to play.
The teams who finish first and second enjoy home ground advantage in the semifinals of the competition – first staged in 1892, making it the oldest provincial competition in the world.
* As it happened. To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
From the kick-off the Cheetahs regathered the ball and worked their way into the Sharks 22 very quickly, where captain Carl Wegner worked his way over, after a few phases. Frans Steyn added the conversion – a dream start, 7-0.
The Sharks replied with an intercept by Yaw Penxe. Curwin Bosch’s conversion made it 7-all.
Playing the territory game, Steyn kept pinning the Sharks deep in their half with well-weighted kicks.
From a scrum five metres out the Cheetahs played a few phases, before hooker Marnus van der Merwe barged his way over. Steyn’s conversion made it 14-7 to the home team after 15 minutes.
Just on 25 minutes, following a scrum penalty, Steyn slotted a penalty from 60 metres out – 17-7.
On the half-hour mark, following an offside penalty, Steyn stretched the home team’s lead to 20-7.
Five minutes before the break the Sharks won a breakdown penalty and Bosch made it a 10-point game again – 0-0.
On the stroke of half-time, following a quick-tap penalty by scrumhalf Ruben de Haas, replacement Rhyno Smith strolled;;ed over for the home team’s third try. Steyn’s conversion made it 27-10 at the break.
Just on 50 minutes, Rosko Specman was sent to the sin bin for a cynical foul, but the Sharks again turned over possession – not using the opportunity.
Two minutes later he was joined in the naughty corner by prop Boan Venter, who was sent off for 10 minutes for a high tackle.
Still the Sharks struggled to make their numerical advantage count. In fact the Cheetahs won a crucial turnover – No.8 Jeandré Rudolph tying up the ball and stopping the visitors’ raid.
Steyn added another three points, making it a 20-point game (30-10) – following a maul penalty.
The Cheetahs continued to play the territory game and eight minutes from time Smith strolled over for what he thought was his second try – after a well-timed pass from Jeandré Rudolph. However, the TMO called them back for a forward pass.
With five minutes remaining the Cheetahs were again reduced to 14 players – flyhalf Reinhardt Fortuin sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements.
Despite being a man up, yet again, the Sharks failed to score and the Cheetahs finished the match with prop Boan Venter scoring the bonus-point try.
Steyn’s conversion attempt was on target – the Cheetahs running out comfortable (37-10) winners.
Man of the match: Many experts would have voted for Cheetahs No.8 Jeandré Rudolph – a real menace at the breakdown, hard-working on defence and strong in the carry. Our vote goes to the Cheetahs’ veteran Springbok Frans Steyn. Not only did just his booming boot keep the Sharks pinned deep in their own half and he produced also some powerful carries, but he produced a 100 percent effort off the tee – for 17 points.
For the Cheetahs
Tries: Wegner, Van der Merwe, Smith, Venter
Cons: Steyn 4
Pens: Steyn 3
For the Sharks
Yellow card: Rosko Specman (Cheetahs, 48 – cynical foul, early tackle), Boan Venter (Cheetahs, 50 – foul play, high tackle), Reinhardt Fortuin (Cheetahs, 75 – repeated infringements, dangerous tackle)
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruben de Haas, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Teboho Mohojé, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner (captain), 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Boan Venter.
Replacement: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 George Cronje, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rhyno Smith.
Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 John Hubert-Meyer, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Juan John van der Mescht, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Madosh Tambwe, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Griffin Colby
TMO: Jaco Peyper