The Cheetahs earned a hard-fought 27-12 victory over Zebre in a PRO14 match in Parma, Italy on Sunday.
The South Africans were out of action for four weeks, but it did not take long for coach Franco Smith’s team to shake off the rust.
It must be said that Zebre did not exactly thrill with their performance and made lots of handling errors.
Fullback Malcolm Jaer came close to opening the scoring for the SA side, but his intercept and forward kick crossed the dead-ball line.
The Cheetahs struck first blood in the 19th minute when centre Benhard Janse van Rensburg scored.
Left wing Rabz Maxwane got the second five-pointer shortly afterwards to make it 12-0 to the visitors.
The Italians came to life shortly afterwards when fullback Edoardo Padovani raced through after a good backline move.
Zebre had suddenly found their rhythm and scored again through Julio Bisegni, and this time, Carlo Canna converted to bring the halftime score to 12-12.
In the second half, the Cheetahs did all the attacking and were rewarded with a second try from Janse van Rensburg.
Zebre had a few chances to score, but just could not get going.
The Cheetahs pressed hard in search of a bonus-point try, and it finally came deep in the second half when replacement Reinach Venter scored.
A minute before the end, the Cheetahs were rewarded with yet another five-pointer when No 8 Daniel Maartens scored after a maul.
This is the third victory for the team from the Free State, and they have now put daylight between themselves and the struggling Zebre on the league table in Conference A, with the South Africans sixth on 22 points and the Italians last on 16.
Tian Schoeman was the Guinness Man of the Match as @CheetahsRugby reigned supreme against @ZebreRugby 💪— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) January 6, 2019
Here he is accepting his award from Francesco Baratella 🤩#GUINNESSPRO14 #ZEBvCHE pic.twitter.com/LbSaO3Agdy
Zebre 12 – Tries: Edoardo Padovani, Julio Bisegni. Conversion: Carlo Canna (1).
Cheetahs 27 – Tries: Benhard Janse van Rensburg (2), Rabz Maxwane, Reinach Venter, Daniel Maartens. Conversion: Tian Schoeman (1).
African News Agency (ANA)