Cheetahs run Elephants ragged in Bloem
MATCH REPORT: The Cheetahs thrashed the Eastern Province Elephants 71-12 in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The home team scored 11 tries on a day where free-running rugby was on display, with the visitors crossing for two tries as they showed a willingness to attack, even if they were outclassed for most of the match.
It was clear from the outset that the Free Staters were going to give the ball air and they did just that, running from all positions on the field and exploiting some weak defence from the Elephants, whose set pieces were also under pressure at times.
Unfortunately, both sides also made too many unforced errors, which resulted in the match becoming a bit of a stop-start affair, especially in the final 20 minutes.
Marcell Muller was an early beneficiary from this game plan and the 19-year-old wing had a dream debut for the Cheetahs, scoring two tries in the first 10 minutes of his first outing at senior level.
Wilmar Arnoldi (hooker) also got a first-half brace and Craig Barry (fullback) scored the Cheetahs’ other try before the break as they took at 31-5 lead after 40 minutes.
Four more tries in the third quarter – by Oupa Mohoje (flank), Tian Meyer (replacement scrumhalf) and two by Rhyno Smith (right wing) – underlined the Cheetahs’ dominance before the match started unravelling a bit.
For the Elephants, win Xolela Payi scored two tries – one in each half – as they showed some attacking enterprise when they managed to get into the Free Staters’ territory.
Muller was denied a hat-trick when he went over in the corner from a superb cross-kick by Ruan Pienaar, but the TMO judged that his foot was in touch.
The Cheetahs had the final say when their hard-working outside centre, Chris Smit, and Meyer went over for their tenth and 11th tries late in the match, and Pienaar ended on six successful conversions from seven attempts as his last kick hit the upright.
Man of the match: There are quite a few contenders for the award. We decided to give it to hooker Wilmar Arnoldi who was a busy man on attack and defence. He is also one of four players in the Cheetahs team to score two tries.
Tries: Muller 2, Arnoldi 2, Barry, Mohoje, Smith 2, Meyer 2, Smit
Cons: Fortuin 2, Pienaar 6
For EP Elephants:
Tries: Payi 2
Cheetahs: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Chris Smit, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Marcell Muller, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Ruben de Haas, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Chris Massyn, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Alulutho Tsakweni.
Replacements: 16 Janus Venter, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Gideon van Wyk, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Ruan Pienaar, 23 Clayton Blommetjies.
Eastern Province: 15 Courtney Winnaar, 14 Xolela Payi, 13 Athi Mayinje, 12 Sherwin Slater, 11 Josiah Twum-Boafo, 10 Inny Radebe (captain), 9 Ethan Jantjies, 8 Luigy van Jaarsveld, Anele Lungisa, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 Arnold Kleyn, 4 Athenkosi Khethani, 3 Marzuq Maarman, 2 Robin Stevens, 1 Siya Nzuzo.
Replacements: 16 Sithembiso Befile, 17 Lyle Lombard, 18 Emile Klassen, 19 Ntsika Fisant1, 20 Diego Williams, 21 Sachin Toring, 22 Lennox Holster, 23 Davian Swanepoel.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby, Mpho Matsaung
TMO: Cwengile Jadezweni
Additional source: SA Rugby
Photo credit: Speedshots.co.za