Cheetahs found some solace in their victory during the Currie Cup final on Saturday

Cape Town — Free State Rugby has been through some dark times in the last four years, and the victory in the Currie Cup final on Saturday somewhat lessened the blow for the Cheetahs.

Cape Town—Free State Rugby has endured a challenging period in the last four years, but the Cheetahs found some solace in their victory during the Currie Cup final on Saturday.

Seeking vengeance against the Pumas, who eliminated them from the tournament in last year’s semi-finals and halted their back-to-back domestic championship hopes, the Cheetahs emerged triumphant with a 25-17 win. Their success was attributed to three well-executed tries and a resilient defensive display.

Reflecting on the win, an elated Hawies Fourie, the Free State Cheetahs coach, expressed optimism, saying, “I’m not sure if I brought bad luck, but hopefully things change after tonight.” He acknowledged the hardships faced by the team, including the impacts of Covid-19 and their exclusion from Pro Rugby (now the United Rugby Championship), but expressed gratitude to Toyota for their unwavering support.

Highlighting the team’s resilience, Fourie remarked, “Since last year’s defeat in the semi-finals, we have worked incredibly hard, and tonight we are reaping the rewards.”

Notably, the Cheetahs exhibited composure in tense moments, particularly when the Pumas launched a relentless assault in the dying minutes of the match. The home team’s outstanding defensive prowess was once again on display, as they valiantly defended their position both after halftime and during a brief period of sustained pressure.

Fourie commended the senior players for their sound decision-making and ability to keep the team calm. He contrasted the previous year’s mistakes during the final minutes of the semi-final with this year’s composed performance, emphasizing their successful execution of the game plan in the closing stages.

Jasper Cohen’s crucial try, which placed the Cheetahs in the lead, was highlighted as a pivotal moment. Aware of the Pumas’ potency as a formidable team, Fourie credited their ability to maintain the advantage, citing the Pumas’ lead against the Sharks in the previous weekend’s semi-final that ultimately proved insurmountable.

Remaining confident in their ability to secure the victory, Fourie concluded, “I knew we were ready to close out the game.” Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse acknowledged the pressure imposed by the Cheetahs’ aggressive defensive strategy, ultimately accepting defeat while lamenting his team’s high error rate, leading to costly penalties and hindering their attacking cohesion.

Congratulating the Cheetahs, Stonehouse acknowledged their deserving triumph.

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