Free State produced their worst display of the season, but still managed to beat Boland 22-20 in Wellington.
The Kavaliers won’t make the Currie Cup semi-finals, but they have been the real success story of the competition. Having lost their sponsor, coach and 30 contracted players, Boland beat the Pumas in a play-off to reach the Premier Division. They were then smashed 91-3 by the Cheetahs in round one of the competition in Bloemfontein. Two months later, with a new sponsor on board, they led the Free Staters 20-19 with 15 minutes to go. That, more than anything, shows just how much progress the part-time professionals have made.
As brave as Boland were, this was a disjointed performance from the log-leaders. They missed Philip Burger’s game-breaking presence on the wing and while their forwards dominated, the team’s poor finishing let them down.
The Cheetahs pack took control from the first kick-off and should have scored from a driving maul and then two 5m scrums. However, Boland somehow turned possession over when it seemed they were about to concede a penalty try, kicked up-field, and took the lead with a penalty.
Free State were uncharacteristically sloppy during the first quarter, losing possession in the tackle and making basic mistakes. But they finally got it together when the pack set up the driving maul and 21-year-old flank Heinrich Brussouw scored the first try. Eddie Fredericks had a great chance to extend the visitors’ lead when he grubbered down the right-hand touchline, but a bad bounce saw the winger knock on over the tryline when trying to regather possession.
However, the Cheetahs scored again when Boland scrumhalf Neil Papier stupidly went for the intercept and his opposite number, Tewis de Bruyn, charged through the gap. Brussouw was driven over for his second try in exactly the same fashion as his first, on the half-hour mark, and Free State seemed to be running away with it.
But Boland finished the half strongly, with Dewald Duvenhage scoring after the hooter. The replacement scrumhalf then grabbed his second try immediately after the break to make it 19-17.
The Kavaliers took the lead when Cheetahs tighthead Kobus Calldo was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle and Dollie kicked the penalty. However, Boland couldn’t take advantage of their numerical supremacy and it was De Waal who edged the Cheetahs back in front with his only penalty attempt of the day.
Boland made several forays into the Cheetahs half during the final 10 minutes, but knock ons and turnovers cost them badly.
Boland – Tries: Dewald Duvenhage (2). Conversions: Isma-eel Dollie (2). Penalties: Dollie (2).
Free State – Tries: Heinrich Brussouw (2), Tewis de Bruyn. Conversions: Willem de Waal (2). Penalty: De Waal.
By Simon Borchardt