The Free State Cheetahs were crowned Currie Cup champions last night. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

BLOEMFONTEIN – Toyota Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith was a delighted man after his team survived a strong second-half fightback from the Xerox Golden Lions for a 31-28 victory and their first Currie Cup title since 2016 in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening.

It was a proper catfight with both teams trying hard to stamp their authority from the outset with powerful bursts up-field and big tackles on defence.

“It is always an excellent feeling to win the Currie Cup,” said Smith. 

“This is the flagship tournament in South African rugby, and I hope it stays that way. #CurrieCupReloaded was a fantastic initiative this season, and it was great that the tournament was so competitive. It is a real privilege to finish as the champions.

“We started building again last year after several players left, and there is currently a dream at the union to win the Currie Cup and Guinness Pro14 in one season. The players worked very hard for this and all credit to them.”

Of the Cheetahs’ performance in the final, Smith said: “It was an excellent first half, but we ended up fighting to stay in the game. But I am very proud of the guys for hanging in for the win.” 

African News Agency (ANA)