Rosko Specman was the star of the show in Bloemfontein as he scored a superb try for the Free State Cheetahs and had a direct hand in two others as they secured an impressive 30-17 bonus-point Currie Cup victory over Western Province on Sunday.
Specman was absolutely scintillating with his powerful runs, superb support play and his all-round hard work in the Cheetahs’ second bonus-point win in as many matches.
The Blitzbok star scored the opening try (and definitely the try of the match) when he got the ball in own 22 after a clearance kick by Province and glided through WP’s defence, leaving no fewer than three defenders grasping at nothing, to score a brilliant solo try and give his team a 5-0 lead.
He also had a direct hand in their second five-pointer, scored by inside centre William Small-Smith, when he got hold of the ball after a maul and broke the line once again, before offloading to the midfielder to put in the final dash to score.
And Specman didn’t stop there.
For the Cheetahs’ third try, he received a pass from loose forward Uzair Cassiem before running in a few solid metres and sending a perfectly-timed pass to skipper Francois Venter to run in their third try, and stretch their lead going into the break (18-10).
Province enjoyed more territory and possession in the first half, but the Cheetahs proved to be more clinical as they made great use of their opportunities to convert their chances into points.
It was the hosts’ water-tight defence, their ability to pounce on turnovers in open play and a few brilliant individual moments that secured victory for the defending champions.
They also managed to poach a number of Province’s lineouts, and the only area WP could confidently say they dominated was the scrums.
But there were a few other players who also deserve credit for their efforts in Bloem.
Former Kings standout Makazole Mapimpi wasn’t as prominent as Specman, but he also looked good at times with a few nice runs.
He showed his skill when he managed loosen his arm from WP wing Seabelo Senatla’s grip in the tackle and dot the ball down for the try as he was driven into touch.
Speaking of Senatla, the Sevens speedster showed that he was definitely growing in his 15-man journey as he was arguably Province’s hardest working player, and he also contributed a number of exhilarating runs.
WP also got a try worthy of bragging about when scrumhalf Justin Phillips neatly controlled the ball and managed to ground the ball over his head (while on his back) on the line in the tackle after Province were propelled forward by another power-packed maul.
That try came in handy, especially given the fact that they were denied another touchdown in a controversial manner after they applied good pressure on the hosts.
WP made great use of their powerful driving maul to get over the tryline after referee AJ Jacobs told them to use it or lose it, and after they “used it” well enough to get over the whitewash, Jacobs ruled that Province didn’t take their chance and awarded the Cheetahs possession.
WP managed to get one more converted try on the score-sheet through loose forward Steph de Wit in the last eight minutes, but in the second half, it was all Cheetahs as they kept Province to mostly a defensive role.
Free State Cheetahs 30 – Tries: Rosko Specman, William Small-Smith, Francois Venter, Makazole Mapimpi Conversions: Niel Marais (2) Penalties: Marais (2).
Western Province 17 – Tries: Justin Phillips, Steph de Wit. Conversions: Kurt Coleman (1), Brandon Thomson (1). Penalty: Coleman (1).