Free State XV beat Welwitschias
April 09, 2016

The Toyota Free State XV claimed their first scalp of the Provincial Tournament by beating the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 32-17 in the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

In a game that lacked lustre at times, the hosts performed well in the scrums and line outs and also made the most of the possession that came their way. The Welwitschias tired relatively early and if their first showing is anything to go by, the Provincial Tournament is going to be a long learning curve.

Physically and fitness wise the Free State were a cut above the visitors, not only scrumming and rucking well, but putting in some hard tackles on the defense. The Welwitschias on the other hand seemed tired early on and it reflected in their defensive efforts.

The hosts found themselves in the visitors half for much of the game, mostly thanks to clever positional kicking by the scrum half Ruan van Rensburg. Free State did get quality first phase possession was when it was available and one such instance lead to the first try of the game for Free State as lock and captain Reniel Hugo burst over in the eighth minute.

The first 20 minutes deservedly belonged to the hosts as gaps opened up in an already questionable Welwitschias defence. Free State full back Reinardt Erwee came into a five pointer as the visitors couldn’t close all the cracks.

It seemed like a one sided affair was on the cards, but a quick penalty by Welwitschias full back Johan Tromp followed by a well constructed try rounded off by winger Melcolm Moore brought the score to 12-10 in favour of the hosts with 16 minutes left before halftime.

Free State regained some of the lost momentum via a second try by Erwee and a deserved five pointer by Springbok utility forward Oupa Mohoje, that helped the hosts to a comfortable lead of 22-10 at halftime.

The start of the second half was riddled with handling errors, with both Free State and the Welwitschias making numerous unforced errors. The hosts settled some of those nerves as hooker Joseph Dweba burst over at the back of a rolling maul in the 55th minute.

The last couple of minutes in the second stanza didn’t produce stellar running rugby, but Free State coach MJ Smith will be happy with the bonus point win. The Welwitschias deserve credit for never throwing in the towel, with flanker and captain Rohan Kitshoff leading from the front and Tromp also scoring a useful try, but one cannot help to wonder if their fitness is on par for a competition of this magnitude.

Points scorers:

Toyota Free State XV 32 (22): Tries: Reniel Hugo, Reinardt Erwee (2), Oupa Mohoje, Joseph Dweba, Elandre Huggett. Conversion: Ruan van Rensburg

Windhoek Draught Welwitschias 17 (10): Tries: Melcolm Moore, Johan Tromp. Conversions: Johan Tromp, Shaun Kaizembi. Penalty: Johan Tromp

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