The Free State Cheetahs made a massive statement when they routed the previously unbeaten and table-topping Griquas 68-14 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The 10 tries to two demolition saw the Cheetahs overtake Griquas at the top of the standings.
It follows their 43-27 demolition of the Blue Bulls last week and showed the difference in class between the full-strength Pro14 outfit has over rag-tag Currie Cup outfits.
The Cheetahs, who made the most of their dominance in the line-outs, looked the more creative of the two teams.
They were rewarded in the first quarter with tries by hard-working loose forwards Junior Pokomela and Henco Venter, with Tian Schoeman kicking two conversions.
In contrast, Griquas, who occasionally dominated the scrums and breakdown, failed to make the most of their few opportunities.
On a number of occasions the visitors turned down kickable penalties and opted for line-outs – only to conceded turnovers to the Cheetahs metres from the line.
With half-time approaching hooker Joseph Dweba rounded off a well-worked build-up, as the Cheetahs continue to find holes in the Griquas defence.
And William Small-Smith completed the first-half rout when he again exposed the Griquas’ porous defence to race over from 60 metres out. Schoeman’s fourth conversion made it 28-0 at the break.
The second half started much like the first finished, the Cheetahs dominating and Dweba getting an armchair ride at the back of the fast-moving maul for his second try.
Griquas eventually opened their account in the 48th minute – Eduan Keyter finishing off a counter that started near halfway.
Within minutes Cheetahs restored their massive advantage and centre Dries Swanepoel scored after a quick-tap penalty near the Griquas tryline.
That was followed by a Griquas try that started with a turnover near their own 22-metre line and Ederies Arendse finishing off the long-range effort.
Again Cheetahs’ response was swift – a Schoeman cross-field kick found Sibahle Maxwane on the left wing and he flopped over for the home team’s seventh.
And Small-Smith continued the rout, when he rounded off another scintillating counter-attack – after the Cheetahs dominated the breakdown and won a turnover.
Swanepoel got in on the act after yet another turnover, scoring his second of the match and ninth for the Cheetahs.
Louis Fouche completed the rout with a chip-and-collect try after the full-time hooter.
Man of the match: In a game of such one-way traffic it is almost unfair to single out individuals. Backs like Darron Adonis, William Small-Smith, Dries Swanepoel and Sibahle Maxwane relished the space and time afforded to them. The forwards – Henco Venter, Abongile Nonkontwana, Junior Pokomela, Walt Steenkamp, Joseph Dweba and Retshegofaditswe Nche – laid the platform. However, our award goes to the Cheetahs’ halfback pairing of Tian Schoeman and Tian Meyer for the way they directed play and constantly got their team on the front foot.
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Pokomela, Venter, Dweba 2, Small-Smith 2, Swanepoel 2, Maxwane, Fouche
Cons: Schoeman 6, Fouche 3
Tries: Keyter, Arendse
Cons: Whitehead 2
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Darron Adonis, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (captain), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 20 Marnus van der Merwe, 21 Gerhard Olivier, 22 Dian Badenhorst, 23 Louis Fouche.
Griquas: 15 George Whitehead (captain), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Eduan Keyter, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Neill Jordaan, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Johan Momsen, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 AJ Le Roux, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Wilmar Arnoldi, 17 Mox Moxili, 18 Victor Sekekete, 19 Zandre Jordaan, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Michal Haznar, 22 Grant Hermanus, 23 Ruan Kramer.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Eon van Zyl
TMO: JJ Wagner
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