The Free State Cheetahs overturned a 21-point deficit to beat Western Province 38-33 in Bloemfontein on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
The Cheetahs looked dead and buried when they trailed 33-12 after 47 minutes. But they turned things around in spectacular fashion to claim a bonus-point win that takes them to the top of the Currie Cup log.
WP picked up two bonus points from the loss to draw level with the Sharks, who play the Blue Bulls at Loftus.
Province coach John Dobson will wonder how his side lost this one.
Four penalty goals from SP Marais gave them a 12-0 lead after 22 minutes. Wilco Louw, who was released from the Springbok squad last Sunday, then surged past two Cheetahs defenders to score under the posts.
#CurrieCup – HALFTIME:
Free State 12-26 Western Province
A controlled first half performance from Western Province sees them go into the break with a 14-point lead.
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) August 24, 2019
William Small-Smith got the hosts back into the game when he scored in the left-hand corner, only for WP to strike again when Damian Willemse broke through the defence and put Dillyn Leyds away.
The Cheetahs scored just before the break, through Joseph Dweba, as WP took a 26-12 lead.
The visitors went 21 points ahead when Marais’ cross-kick was collected by Scarra Ntubeni, only for the Cheetahs to hit back with two quick-fire tries from wingers Tian Meyer and Darren Adonis to make it 33-26.
The hosts levelled the scores after Ox Nche grounded the ball despite the best efforts of Leyds and then took the lead in the 72nd minute when Jasper Wiese powered over from close range.
WP won two lineouts after the hooter, 5m from the opposition tryline, but Free State repelled them on both occasions to secure an amazing win.
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: William Small-Smith, Joseph Dweba, Tian Meyer, Darren Adonis, Ox Nche. Conversion: Tian Schoeman (4).
Western Province – Tries: Wilco Louw, Dillyn Leyds, Scarra Ntubeni. Conversions: SP Marais (3). Penalties: Marais (4).
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Darren Adonis, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Tian Meyer (c), 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjesi, 3 Boan Venter, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Dries Swanepoel/Dian Badenhorst, 22 Louis Fouche.
Western Province – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius 11 SP Marais, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 JD Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl (c), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Nama Xaba, 20 Juan Augustus, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Seabelo Senatla.
Photo: Frikkie Kapp/BackpagePix