GARETH DUNCAN watched the Cheetahs end the league stage of their campaign with a 49-39 victory over Griquas in Bloemfontein.
It’s a result that could see the Cheetahs host a semi-final fixture, should the Sharks lose to the Lions in Durban. But whatever happens at King’s Park, Naka Drotske’s men are sure of a place in the playoffs next weekend.
The Cheetahs ran in six tries for the bonus-point triumph and impressed with ball in hand. However, while it was a good win in the end, the Cheetahs will be concerned after a poor start and several defensive lapses. Griquas surged into a 10-0 lead in the opening moments while they also scored 19 points in the final five minutes of the match as they capitalised against the hosts’ poor guard. Drotske will have to strengthen his defensive plans as his charges prepare for the knock-out stages of the Currie Cup.
Flyhalf Riaan Viljoen’s try – created by scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius’ break – and fullback Rudi Vogt’s boot gave Griquas the early advantage. But the Cheetahs fought back strongly, securing a 20-10 lead at the break as wing Cameron Jacobs and flanker Lappies Labuschagne dotted down while wing Nico Scheepers and scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn were on target from the tee.
The Cheetahs then sealed their win with tries through Labuschagne, hooker Adriaan Strauss and replacement wings Philip Burger and Werner Griesel. Griquas battled admirably at the death, scoring three late tries. But it was a little too late for the Kimberley minnows as the Cheetahs held on for the win.