Free State Cheetahs Left Stunned
Griquas scored two tries within two minutes to sink the Free State Cheetahs 23-20 in a Currie Cup match in Kimberley on Saturday.
The visitors were in the driving seat for most of the match leading the conquest by 11 points until the 70th minute when the Griquas shocked the Cheetahs into submission.
The Cheetahs made a comedy of unforced errors but it did not take anything away from the expansive brand of rugby both teams displayed.
Fumbled balls were turned into counter-attacking opportunities which made for some exciting viewing.
The last minute withdrawal of prop WP Nel proved costly for the Cheetahs as their traditional solid scrum looked frail at times.
Once the Cheetahs' passes stuck, they were in demolishing form as they broke through the Griquas' defence.
In their pursuit of high-tempo rugby, the Cheetahs made rather pedestrian mistakes with passes going awry.
The home team opened the scoring with fullback Rudi Vogt's penalty conversion 15 minutes into the match.
He extended Griquas' lead eight minutes later when the Cheetahs were penalised at scrum time.
The Cheetahs scored their first try of the match when flyhalf Sias Ebersohn received the ball with an open try line in front of him.
He then converted his own five-pointer.
Four minutes later, the Cheetahs went over the advantage line thanks to some crisp passing to the wing where props Coenie Oosthuizen and Marcel van der Merwe received the ball.
In most cases, one would expect the lesser skilled props to fumble the ball but their clever interplay proved crucial as they gave the ball to scrumhalf Piet van Zyl who darted from the outside to score the Cheetahs' second try.
Four minutes before the interval, Vogt brought Griquas within five points of the Cheetahs' score with his third penalty conversion.
After the break, Ebersohn succeeded with two consecutive penalty conversions to extend his side's lead to 11 points.
The Cheetahs made numerous threatening runs but they could not make it count.
Their momentum was further stifled when Van der Merwe was sin-binned for an infringement at the ruck.
Shortly before he was set to return to the field, Griquas winger Riaan Viljoen got the breakthrough for his team with a superb individual try.
Viljoen beat two defenders selling the dummy pass on two occasions scoring with ten minutes left in the match, with Vogt converting.
With eight minutes left in the encounter, Jean Stemmet put his side in front scoring a controversial try.
Stemmet ran the breadth of the field and crossed with one of his own teammates which appeared to be obstructive running.
Flyhalf Earl Rose converted the try to give his side a three-point lead.
The visitors looked shell-shocked by the sudden turn of events and could not recover after Griquas' blitz.
SARugby.com Man of the Match: Riaan Viljoen.
Griquas – Tries: Riaan Viljoen, Jean Stemmet. Conversion: Earl Rose. Penalties: Rudi Vogt (3).
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Sias Ebersohn, Pieter van Zyl. Conversions: Ebersohn (2). Penalties: Ebersohn (2).