Rugby 15.8.2015 06:41 pm

WP struggle to overcome fired-up Cheetahs

Fred Zeilinga of Free State Cheetahs during the Absa Currie Cup match between DHL Western Province and Toyota Free State at DHL Newlands on August 15, 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)

Fred Zeilinga of Free State Cheetahs during the Absa Currie Cup match between DHL Western Province and Toyota Free State at DHL Newlands on August 15, 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Gallo Images)

Western Province laboured to a struggling 9-3 Absa Currie Cup win over a Cheetahs side on Saturday who refused to lie down and showed huge character on defence in a real dog-fight’ at a wet and soggy Newlands field which made constructive backline play almost impossible.

The Cheetahs, who lead 3-0 at halftime, however came desperately close to staging a huge upset and almost snatched the game when Cheetahs centre Rayno Benjamin was ankle-tapped on the WP goal line in the 78th minute by Province replacement flyhalf Kurt Coleman.

Province in fact had to wait until the 57th minute to finally get the lead the first time in the game at 6-3 after WP pivot Demetri Catrakilis kicked his second penalty, while the Cheetahs coughed up their second yellow carded dished out by referee Jaco van Heerden when replacement flank Gerhard Olivier received his marching orders in the 58th minute.

It seemed strange however how Van Heerden picked up the Cheetahs’ high tackles but considered the equally dangerous efforts of the hometeam as not over the board.

The Cheetahs’ third yellow however followed soon after when flanker Henco Venter followed him in the 64th minute for a head grip on Province caretaker skipper Nizaam Carr, to go with the first yellow to Benjamin.

Catrakilis duly responded to kick his third penalty for a 9-3 lead with Province finally getting the reward for domination possession and territory but having little to show for it.

With Cheetahs flyhalf Fred Zeilinga scoring the only points of the opening half through a penalty, Province also suffered the heartbreak of losing captain and centre Juan de Jongh in the 48th minute which looked like a mediale knee ligament injury which could put him out of the game for some time as he was replaced by Kobus van Wyk, a wing but who could also play centre.

In the 54th minute Province finally scored their first points through a penalty by Catrakilis to level the scores at 3-3 but the Newlands faithful had to wait a long time to get that relief.

It was an eye-opener how dangerous runners such as Diilyn Leyds, Cheslin Kolbe and Sebelo Senatla could not make any head waves as they were being smothered to the ground, while Carr took over the leadership.

Backed by resilient defence the Cheetahs enjoyed an intensive start in the cold and wet conditions with huge emphasis being placed on slowing the hometeam’s ball down and chasing the dangerous WP game-breakers into corners and nullified their space.

In the sixth minute Catrakilis unceremoniously missed his opening penalty and by the 12th minute the scores were still 0-0 as the Cheetahs stood their ground except maybe for the demanding scrum performance by Province where they timelessly pushed the visitors’ into reverse gear.

The Province powerful scrum was a big feature in the opening half but despite enjoying a 64% possession advantage the hometeam failed to make it count being exposed at the breakdowns.

Because of their scrum woes the Cheetahs replaced tighthead Luan de Bruin with the more experienced Maks van Dyk after the break following the powerful performance by especially WP loosehead Oli Kebble.

A real and rare opportunity was squandered in the 12th minute when De Jongh created a clean linebreak after being fed by No 8 Nizaam Carr but couldn’t find fullback Cheslin Kolbe on his outside who was unmarked.

In the 18th minute it was Zeilinga who opened the scoring and send the Cheetahs into a 3-0 lead after the hometeam transgressed on the ground as the teams found handling a real challenge with the surface wet underfoot and with the Cheetahs employing a sound tactical kicking approach.

WP tighthead Wilco Louw thought he had scored eventually when he wrestled his way over the Cheetahs line in the 23rd minute but was ruled by TMO Willie Vos to have made a double movement trying to get up from his knees after being brought to the ground.

A testimony to the Cheetahs’ refusal to lie down was when flanker Henco Venter had to leave proceedings halfway through the first half for a concussion test to be replaced by Tienie Burger who was a late addition to the side.

 

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