Cheetahs beat stubborn Pumas to be crowned Currie Cup champions

Cheetahs players celebrate with the Currie Cup trophy after beating the Pumas in the final at Toyota Stadium.
Cheetahs players celebrate with the Currie Cup trophy after beating the Pumas in the final at Toyota Stadium.
Image: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images

The Cheetahs surged to their seventh Currie Cup title when they downed the Pumas 25-17 in a ferocious final in Bloemfontein on Saturday. 

There may be divergent views on whether this was a Currie Cup final for the ages, but there is little doubt it was one for the aged. 

Cheetahs' flyhalf and talisman Ruan Pienaar again delivered a time defying display and it is little wonder he has been offered a contract extension that will keep him playing professional rugby into his 40s. 

Though he played the overwhelming majority of his 88 Tests at scrumhalf, calm and unhurried Pienaar this season has marvelously pulled the strings from first receiver for the Cheetahs. 

Some now even say he should be roped into the Bok set-up but they are tied down to the men they've grown accustomed to. 

It was as a collective though that the Cheetahs outshone the Pumas. 

Against a side hell bent to prove last year's Currie Cup win was no fluke, the Cheetahs had very little scope to drop their guard or intensity.  

The Pumas' most enduring quality has been their failure to accept when they are beat.  

In that way the Pumas take the nine lives theory quite literally, but the Cheetahs kept them well caged throughout. 

The Cheetahs took control up front and kept their dangerous opponents at arm's length but it took a while to do so. 

In front of a Harley Davison guard of honour, Joe Black delivered a stirring rendition of the national anthem before an Embraer from a regional carrier made a low fly-by that barely made it over the roof that wraps three quarters of the stadium. 

The crowd of 33 000 was still gazing skyward when a ferocious feline frenzy developed from kick-off. 

Both teams had their claws out and the ball carrier suffered in the opening 20 minutes.  

Time and space was at a premium but gradually the pattern of the game emerged as the Cheetahs started to hold territorial ascendancy.  

They were more alert, routinely beating the Pumas to punch.  

When the visitors were in possession they were suffocated, often gang tackled by the hosts. 

However, even when they seem trapped and all escape avenues closed, the Pumas are one of the competition's best exponents of transitional play.  

When fullback Devon Williams telegraphed the intended trick up his short sleeve and was duly gang tackled with no support player behind him, the Pumas still found a way to extricate the ball and transition into attack. 

The Cheetahs though had more going for them. 

Gideon van der Merwe tore up the left hand touch line to help set up the opening try.  

From the resulting pressure the Cheetahs were able to set up camp inside the Pumas 22 and after several attempts that came up short they finally got over the line when inside centre Reinhardt Fortuin found just enough space to beat his marker near the touchline. 

Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie made the rather bold call of withdrawing props Marnus van der Merwe and Mox Moxili from the action in the 36th minute but the decision paid almost immediate dividends. 

The hosts surged upfield and from an ensuing line-out deployed their maul.  

It was the first time in the match that their maul got traction and though the Pumas stopped them in the nick of time space had been created on the opposite wing and the ball duly made its way to Cohen Jasper who applied the finishing touches. 

It handed the home team an 18-11 advantage at the break. 

Crucially for the visitors two De Beer penalties trimmed the deficit to just one point by the 47th minute. 

The Cheetahs, however, made a decisive score in the 52nd minute when their frenzied attack brought them within a sniff of the line before scrumhalf Rewan Kruger did remarkably well in lunging for the tryline. 

 De Beer missed a long-range penalty in the 76th minute that would have brought the Pumas within striking distance but he missed to the right. 


Cheetahs (25) - Tries:Reinhardt Fortuin, Jasper Cohen, Rewan Kruger. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (2). Penalties: Pienaar (2). 

Pumas (17) - Try: Ali Mgijima. Penalties: Tinus de Beer (4)