Emotionally charged Cheetahs secure a home final

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Junior Pokomela PHOTO: JOHAN PRETORIUS

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs will host the 2019 Currie Cup final after coming from behind once again to thump the Sharks 51-30 in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening.

Over 20 000 supporters witnessed another stunning second-half performance by the Cheetahs to turn around a 20-11 deficit at half time at the Toyota Stadium.

It took the Sharks just two minutes to get on the board after the Springbok flyhalf Curwin Bosch rounded off a try from a Cheetahs mistake.

Tian Schoeman got the home side on the board when he landed a penalty a couple of minutes later to get the board ticking.

Junior Pokomela scored the Cheetahs first try of the evening when he powered over in the 14th minute to hand the hosts the lead. Schoeman slotted a second penalty to extend the lead, however, it was short-lived when the impressive Sanele Nohamba dotted down for the Sharks.

Bosch was unable to convert, however, the men from Durban managed to hold a 9 point lead at the interval thanks to a Lwazi Mvovo try. Once again, Bosch missed his mark with the conversion.

The Sharks struck first in the second stanza when Bosch slotted a penalty, but mere minutes later the Cheetahs comeback was set in motion.

William Small-Smith scored in the 47th minute before Ruan Pienaar levelled matters with a try some 10 minutes later. He also took over the kicking duties from Schoeman and made no mistake in converting his own try.

Just three minutes later, the hooker Joseph Dweba hit a gap to fly over for his sixth try of the campaign.

Bosch then rounded off his brace with a try which also levelled matters, and this was the visitors’ last score of the season.

Two minutes later, Pokomela, regained the lead for the Cheetahs with his brace, before the Sharks-bound Ox Nche, powered over.

With two minutes to play, the replacement loose-forward, Jasper Wiese, scored the most important try of his life, when he made his way across the whitewash. While his score had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the game, it was dedicated to his sister, who had been tragically killed in a vehicle accident a day prior.

Once again, Pienaar proved to be a master of his craft and has silenced all the critics out there. Since his arrival, the 88 Test Springbok veteran has led from the front and by example and proved why he achieved legendary status in Belfast when he played for Ulster. He rightly deserved the man of the match award for another outstanding performance.

The Cheetahs will host the Golden Lions in the final next week Saturday. It will be a repeat of the 2007 final when the same two sides met in Bloemfontein. On the day, the Cheetahs beat the Lions 20-18. Saturday’s big game at the Toyota Stadium kicks off at 17:00.

Scorers:

Toyota Free State Cheetahs: Tries – Junior Pokomela 2, William Small-Smith, Ruan Pienaar, Ox Nche, Joseph Dweba, Jasper Wiese Conv. – Ruan Pienaar 5 Pen. – Tian Schoeman 2

Sharks: Tries – Curwin Bosch 2, Sanele Nohamba, Lwazi Mvovo Conv. – Curwin Bosch 2 Pen. – Bosch 2 – MORGAN PIEK