Cheetahs pick up dramatic win over Province
September 11, 2009
Meyer Bosman picked up a try for the Cheetahs © Getty Images
Free State Cheetahs took a chunk out of Western Province's play-off ambitions with a last-gasp 33-31 Currie Cup victory in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The visitors were in pole position until the final minute, when referee Marius Jonker intervened twice to snatch victory from their grasp.
First the official sent flanker Francois Louw to the sin-bin for repeated infringements at the breakdown before losing patience with the Province pack - awarding a penalty try to the Cheetahs as they attempted to roll a maul over the line.
The seven points gave the Cheetahs the bonus-point win, with Province forced to settle for try and losing bonus-points. Johan Wessels, centre Meyer Bosman and wing Lionel Mapoe crossed the line for the Cheetahs, who were outscored five tries to four by the visitors.
Frikkie Welsh bagged a brace for the Cape Town side, with Tonderai Chavhanga, Juan de Jongh and replacement JJ Engelbrecht also scoring tries.
Juan Martin Hernandez proved his class as the Sharks reclaimed top spot in the Currie Cup standings by edging out the Blue Bulls 29-23 in an absorbing encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Argentine ace Hernandez scored 24 points in total, bagging a try, two conversions, four penalties and a drop goal as he inspired, while Jacques Botes also crossed for the visitors.
The Sharks had actually trailed at the interval, with Burton Francis outscoring Hernandez by four penalties to two to put the Bulls 12-6 in front and within 40 minutes of a first win in three games.
However, the a Hernandez-inspired Sharks side blitzed their hosts with 20 unanswered points in the space of 15 minutes after the break. The Pumas fly-half got things going in the 43rd minute by jinking his way past four would-be tacklers to score under the posts.
Moments later and the Sharks were over again, Botes racing away to score from a pass from Charl McLeod, who had picked up the pieces after Francis had seen a drop-goal attempt charged down.
Hernandez converted and then slotted over a drop goal and a penalty to leave the Bulls with a mountain to climb. In fairness to the men from Pretoria, they very nearly scaled it, drawing to within six points courtesy of a penalty from Francois Brummer and a try from Werner Kruger, who had burrowed his way over from close range.
However, Hernandez replied with a penalty and the Bulls were ultimately forced to settle for a bonus point for the second weekend in a row.
On Friday, the Griquas picked up a bonus-point victory from bottom-placed Boland in Wellington to move back to the top of the Currie Cup table temporarily.
The 31-23 victory provided some respite for the Griquas, who saw their unbeaten start to the season wrecked by consecutive defeats in August. Much of their good work this season has come from fly-half Naas Olivier and the Cheetahs Super 14 representative again chipped in, with 11 points.
Boland had lead heading towards the half-hour mark, two penalties by wing Justin Peach securing the advantage until centre Barry Geel crossed for the Griquas' opener. From there the visitors pulled clear, scoring tries to Wilmaure Louw, Rohan Kitshoff, Trompie Nontshinga and Olivier.
The Boland effort was typified by No.8 Junior Bester, whose powerful running and heart was rewarded by a try, which for a time drew them back within five points, while Wendal Wehr picked up a consolation score just after the hooter.
The Lions kept their slim semi-final hopes alive with a 31-13 victory over the Leopards in Johannesburg on Friday night.
Jano Vermaak took no time to put the home side ahead, scampering away to score after only five minutes and his team-mates duly followed suit. Skipper Willem Alberts was the next Lion to profit, rounding off Alwyn Hollenbach's break.
USA international Todd Clever turned provider next, going through Russell Jeacocks and leaving Dusty Noble with an unopposed run in. The bonus-point was wrapped up before the half-hour mark as Derrick Minnie crashed over following some dominant play by the Lions' back-row.
Ruan Boshoff scored their fifth and final try shortly after the break, when indifference seemed to overtake the hosts. Basil de Doncker scored the Leopards' only try, to add to a pair of penalties by Cecil Dumond.
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