BLOEMFONTEIN – Makazole Mapimpi finished off his stint at the Cheetahs in fine style with a trademark try in what proved to be an easy 45-24 PRO14 victory over the Southern Kings in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Despite the Kings scoring the first try in the 11th minute through Luzuko Vulindlu, the Cheetahs recovered to dot down thrice in each half for a full haul of five log points.
This result consolidates the Free State outfit’s third position in Conference A on 40 points, with Glasgow on 58 and Munster on 43.
Dynamic flank Andisa Ntsila showed throughout the afternoon why he was considered as a Springbok contender by many in 2017 with a busy performance on the losing side.
Ntsila sparked the opening try of the game when he wriggled his way through a tackle and offloaded to Vulindlu.
The Cheetahs forwards got stuck into their opponents and worked their way up the middle in order to get back into the game, and at the 20th-minute mark, centre Nico Lee barged over for the first of two tries.
With flyhalf Fred Zeilinga on target with the boot, the Cheetahs soon established a 24-14 lead through further tries by Bok loose forward Uzair Cassiem and Lee.
Those touchdowns came either side of a welcome seven-pointer for the Kings when loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira finished off from a break by flyhalf Martin du Toit.
Fullback Ntabeni Dukisa slotted a penalty just before halftime to put the Port Elizabeth side within reach at 24-17, but the Cheetahs proved why they have lost just a single game at the Free State Stadium in this competition.
Arguably the try of the match came five minutes into the second half. Skilful Cheetahs No 15 Clayton Blommetjies put in one of his clever chips inside, and none other than prop Ox Nche was the man chasing it down.
Nche beat the cover defence to catch the ball and dive over to bring the sparse crowd to their feet.
🙌 Pure cheetah-esque pace from Makazole Mapimpi 🙌
The 🐆 @CheetahsRugby winger chases down the ball over the top and gets his 10th try of the season 👌
📺 Watch the South African derby live on @SkySports or @SuperSportTV now!#GUINNESSPRO14 pic.twitter.com/FQ5snGPTMT
Even though Cheetahs right wing Craig Barry was given a yellow card for taking out Kings No 11 Yaw Penxe in the air, that didn’t stop the home side two further tries in quick succession to secure the victory.
One of those came from Mapimpi, who benefited from Blommetjies’ kick-ahead from his own 22. The Eastern Cape speedster, though, still had a lot of work to do, and out-raced two Kings players and grubbered the ball ahead one more to score his 10th try in 12 PRO14 games.
Mapimpi will now join the Sharks for Super Rugby.
The Kings were left with too much to do in the last 25 minutes, and could only produce a consolation try to Tienie Burger.
Cheetahs 45 (24) – Tries: Nico Lee (2), Uzair Cassiem, Ox Nche, Makazole Mapimpi, Shaun Venter. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (6). Penalty: Zeilinga (1).
Southern Kings 24 (17) – Tries: Luzuko Vulindlu, Schalk Ferreira, Tienie Burger. Conversions: Ntabeni Dukisa (2), Benhard Janse van Rensburg (1). Penalty: Dukisa (1).
African News Agency (ANA)