The home team scored 11 tries on a day where free-running rugby was on display, with the visitors crossing for two tries as they showed a willingness to attack, even if they were outclassed for most of the match.

It was clear from the outset that the Free Staters were going to give the ball air and they did just that, running from all positions on the field and exploiting some weak defence from the Elephants, whose set pieces were also under pressure at times.

Unfortunately, both sides also made too many unforced errors, which resulted in the match becoming a bit of a stop-start affair, especially in the final 20 minutes.

Marcell Muller was an early beneficiary from this game plan and the 19-year-old wing had a dream debut for the Toyota Cheetahs, scoring two tries in the first 10 minutes of his first outing at senior level.

Rhyno Smith scored two of the Toyota Cheetahs' 11 tries

Rhyno Smith scored two of the Toyota Cheetahs' 11 tries

Wilmar Arnoldi (hooker) also got a first-half brace and Craig Barry (fullback) scored the Toyota Cheetahs’ other try before the break as they took at 31-5 lead after 40 minutes.

Four more tries in the third quarter – by Oupa Mohoje (flank), Tian Meyer (replacement scrumhalf) and two by Rhyno Smith (right wing) – underlined the Toyota Cheetahs’ dominance before the match started unravelling a bit.

For the Elephants, Xolela Payi (right wing) scored two tries – one in each half – as they showed some attacking enterprise when they managed to get into the Free Staters’ territory.

Muller was denied a hat-trick when he went over in the corner from a superb cross-kick by Ruan Pienaar, but the TMO judged that his foot was in touch.

The Toyota Cheetahs had the final say when their hard-working outside centre, Chris Smit, and Meyer went over for their tenth and 11th tries late in the match, and Pienaar ended on six successful conversions from seven attempts as his last kick hit the upright.


Toyota Cheetahs 71 (31) – Tries: Marcell Muller (2), Wilmar Arnoldi (2), Craig Barry, Oupa Mohoje, Rhyno Smith (2), Tian Meyer (2), Chris Smit. Conversions: Reinhardt Fortuin (2), Ruan Pienaar (6).

Eastern Province 12 (5) – Tries: Xolela Payi (2). Conversion: Inny Radebe.