Cheetahs in dazzling Currie Cup form ahead of Guinness PRO14 season

Rich Dore
29 July 2019

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The Toyota Free State Cheetahs are leading the Currie Cup standings after Joseph Dweba, William Small-Smith and Dries Swanepoel all struck doubles in a big win over Griquas.

The Cheetahs’ opponents were leading the table heading into the weekend after two wins from two, but now lie second after being swept aside 68-14 in Bloemfontein.

The Free Staters, five-time Currie Cup champions, flexed their muscles with an impressive 10 tries touched down and only two conceded.

Despite the big win, head coach Franco Smith is still targeting speedy improvements: “We’re not the finished product and we’re on the way to becoming something, but the Currie Cup is very, very important.

“We still need to perform in the Guinness PRO14 so the Currie Cup is good, we want to win it of course but we need to keep getting better to be competitive.

“We’re going to face teams in the PRO14 where 19 players out of 23 are internationals, it’s a very difficult competition.

“It doesn’t change anything beating teams in South Africa, winning or not, it’s still going to be a challenge to get better so that we can get competitive in the PRO14.”

The Cheetahs, warming up nicely for the beginning of the Guinness PRO14 season in September, showed a razor-sharp counter-attacking game right from the off at Toyota Stadium, flanker Junior Pokomela getting the ball rolling on five minutes after great play out wide.

No.8 Henco Venter, hooker Dweba and Small-Smith then secured the bonus point before half-time – 28-0.

Head coach Smith’s men weren’t done there, with a rolling maul five minutes into the second half seeing Dweba as the first to complete his double – Swanepoel getting his name on the scoresheet after Griquas centre Eduan Keyter had touched down.

Griquas got a second but the Cheetahs accelerated once again – flying back-three man Rabz Maxwane getting in on the act before Small-Smith, Swanepoel and Louis Fouche rounded off the scoring.

“Hard work in training paid off and we took our opportunities,” commented Cheetahs skipper Tian Meyer.

“I’m happy about getting the points but not so happy that we had to defend so much, and we’ve obviously spoken about better game management.

“It was a great effort from the team defensively. Obviously it’s not ideal those statistics where we had to defend a lot and we’d like to change them.

“But we know stats don’t count at the end of the day, it’s results that count and I’m happy we got that bonus point before half-time.”

The Free Staters, Currie Cup champions as recently as 2016, are well placed in the competition now with back-to-back victories after last week’s win over the Blue Bulls.

In the other results of the weekend the Golden Lions produced a stirring comeback to beat Western Province 30-28, while the Blue Bulls downed the Pumas 25-17.

The Cheetahs are next in action on Friday 2 August, hosting the Golden Lions, and will progress to the semi-finals if they finish in the top four of the seven-team group.

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