The hosts scored three tries – the pick of them by David Brits late in the first half – but were denied a valuable bonus-point after they were made to work very hard for the win by their neighbours from the Northern Cape, who finished the game the stronger side.
The game was off to a slow start as players from both teams were guilty of making some basic errors, which could probably be attributed to early-season rustiness. There were also many new players in the Griquas team, who had to get used to playing at a higher intensity, while the visitors’ discipline also let them down at crucial times during the match.
After 30 minutes, the Toyota Cheetahs led by 6-3 as both sides only managed to kick a handful of penalty goals, but then a maul try increased the Free Staters’ lead to 13-3.
The hosts finally showed some attacking intent late in the first half to score a superb try. Brits finished from a move that started deep inside their own half, which involved some good passing and even a kick-pass before the outside centre beat two defenders in midfield with deft footwork.
It was as if that try set the game alight, with Luther Obi crossing a few minutes later for the visitors, but unfortunately the move included a forward pass and the try was disallowed.
Tafel Lager Griquas enjoyed a much better second half. Both sides scored a maul try apiece – Ruan Steenkamp crossing for the visitors and Louis van der Westhuizen for the Free Staters – before Obi finally got his five-pointer in the 78th minute after they exploited some weak Cheetahs defence at the death.
Toyota Cheetahs 30 (23) – Tries: Marnus van der Merwe, David Brits, Louis van der Westhuizen. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (3). Penalty goals: Pienaar (3).
Tafel Lager Griquas 20 (3) – Tries: Ruan Steenkamp, Luther Obi. Conversions: Zander du Plessis (2). Penalty goals: Du Plessis (2).