In conditions hardly conducive to running rugby, the Cheetahs ended their Super Rugby Unlocked campaign with a messy, but bonus point 28-9 win over the try-less and still winless Griquas in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
With the Bulls securing the trophy earlier in the day, there was only pride to play for and the added bonus of taking log points over to the Currie Cup, which starts next week.
With the Cheetahs scoring the only four tries of the match and No 8 Jeandre Rudolph probably the pick of the bunch, it was, however, not a great advertisement for the game.
It turned out to be the Cheetahs’ third win of the competition, ensuring they ended fourth on the log with 17 points from their six matches.
After trailing 9-8 at the break their second try by centre Howard Mnisi created a lead of just 13-9, but in the tough conditions it was crucial in the context of the match.
Late tries by replacement scrumhalf Ruben de Haas and Rudolph gave more respect to the Cheetahs’ scoreline, but it also doesn’t reflect how hard the Griquas fought.
With heavy downpours experienced throughout the day, the field was left soggy and water-logged and very much a game leveler.
With rolling mauls becoming the biggest attacking weapon, even centres Frans Steyn and William Small-Smith at one stage joined the Cheetahs’ maul, but with little effect.
The Cheetahs were on the board early through flank Andisa Ntsila, who dived on the ball in the in-goal-area in front of the nose of wing Rosko Specman, who set up the try with some deft footwork after scrumhalf Tian Meyer had chipped into space.
Tries: Andisa Ntsila, Howard Mnisi, Ruben de Haas, Jeandre Rudolph; Conversion: Reinhard Fortuin, Penalties: Tian Schoeman (2)
Penalties: Tinus de Beer (3)