Challenge Cup result: Pienaar stars as Cheetahs feast on Zebre
Ruan Pienaar's 18 points helped Cheetahs to victory in their opening match in the Champions Cup.
Ruan Pienaar’s 18 points helped Cheetahs claim victory over Zebre. Picture: Fred Porcu/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix
Ruan Pienaar kicked 18 points to help the Cheetahs open the 2023-24 European Challenge Cup with a comprehensive victory over Zebre in Parma on Saturday.
The 39-year-old veteran scrumhalf was named Man of the Match for a clinical kicking performance that included four penalties and three conversions in boosting the Free Staters to a 33-15 victory.
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Scores remained locked at a penalty apiece on the 30-minute mark, before Pienaar added another penalty and just one minute later put up a well-placed box kick that led to a Zebre error and Cheetahs winger Cohen Jasper pouncing on the try-scoring opportunity. Pienaar added the conversion and then couldn’t stifle a grin after slotting a wide-angle penalty on the stroke of half time to give the tourists a 16-3 lead.
It did not take the Cheetahs long to add to their advantage after the break, with centre Reinhardt Fortuin crossing for a try just three minutes into the second half, converted by Pienaar.
Two tries from the home side in the final three minutes of play did little to detract from a comfortable victory for the Cheetahs, guided by Pienaar’s tactical nous and pinpoint boot.
This article first appeared on sarugbymag.co.za. It is republished here with permission.