The Cheetahs secured an important 40-36 bonus-point win against a 14-man Kings side in Bloemfontein on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
It wasn’t the Cheetahs’ greatest performance, but up against a disjointed, ill-disciplined Kings side, they didn’t need to be at their best.
The Cheetahs’ highly touted backline was kept relatively quiet, but luckily for them, their forwards were able to assert power and control up front, providing a solid platform for the hosts to attack from.
They dominated both territory and possession in the first half, and apart from one try when they were down to 13 men, the Cheetahs were hardly troubled by the Kings. The visitors were deprived of the ball and when they were in possession, the forwards were unable to get across the gainline, while their backs lacked direction.
There was a slight improvement from the Kings in the second half, but their effort was cancelled out by the Cheetahs’ continued dominance.
After Masixole Banda had given the Kings a three-point advantage, the Cheetahs fired back with three unanswered tries for a healthy lead, which they failed to surrender for the remainder of the match.
Captain Shaun Venter showed great awareness and presence of mind close to the line when he shaped to pass, but instead took the gap between a lock and a prop to score the opener. Tian Schoeman would be next to score and when Kings centre Meli Rokoua was yellow-carded, William Small-Smith went over for the third try.
Ironically, the Kings’ first try, scored by CJ Velleman, also came after their opponents had conceded a yellow card late in the first half. It would get worse for the Cheetahs when they were reduced from 14 to 13 players when Small-Smith was sin-binned for deliberately slowing the ball down by not presenting enough daylight after making a tackle close to the tryline. But the Kings couldn’t add to their tally and went into the break trailing 19-10.
Coach Deon Davids must have had strong words for his charges at half-time as they upped the intensity early in the second stanza. Their response was swift, and it took just six minutes for Yaw Penxe to put them back within a score.
At 19-15, the Kings were right back in it and playing with an energy that was missing. However, they were their own worst enemies. After doing well to repel a Cheetahs attack and secure turnover ball, a small mistake handed possession back to the home team, who just had to spread the ball wide to a waiting Malcolm Jaer.
The game exploded to life thereafter. Junior Pokomela barged over in the left-hand corner, but in a moment of sheer madness, Velleman followed through with a tackle on the try-scorer, using an elbow to make contact (with force) to Pokomela’s head. It was a needless act which was punished accordingly, as Velleman was handed a red card.
There was another try the way of the Cheetahs, but Velleman’s sending off seemed to spur on the Kings more than anything else.
The Kings turned on the heat in the last 10 minutes and pressed hard for a bonus point. As it turned out, they were rewarded with two losing bonus points after scoring three late tries to finish the game on a high.
Cheetahs – Tries: Shaun Venter, Tian Schoeman, William Small-Smith, Malcolm Jaer, Junior Pokomela, Reinach Venter. Conversions: Schoeman (5).
Kings – Tries: CJ Velleman, Yaw Penxe, Tienie Burger, Alandre van Rooyen, Berton Klaassen. Conversions: Masixole Banda (4). Penalty: Banda.
Cheetahs – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Shaun Venter (c), 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Reinach Venter, 17 Erich de Jager, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Niell Jordaan, 22 Rudy Paige, 23 Ernst Stapelberg.
Kings – 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Ntabeni Dukisa, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 JC Astle, 4 Andries van Schalkwyk, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Alandre Van Rooyen, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 De-Jay Terblanche, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Bader Pretorius, 23 Berton Klaasen.
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