The second PRO14 season for the two South African teams came to an end when the Cheetahs finished the season off on a high note with a 61-25 triumph over the Southern Kings side in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening.
Neither side failed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition. The Toyota Cheetahs finished in sixth position in Conference A, with eight wins, one draw and 12 defeats from their 21 matches, while the Southern Kings’ return was two victories, one draw and 18 defeats as they propped up the standings in Conference B.
The home side had a strong start and four tries in the first half had them well on their way to victory. In fact, Abongile Nonkontwana, Walt Steenkamp and Joseph Dweba all crossed the visitors' line before they responded with a try by Harlon Klaasen.
That was quickly eliminated by Shaun Venter, who bagged his first of two on the night just before the break, with the fourth try from the home side giving them a 28-13 lead at half-time.
After the restart, a try by Louis Fouché extended the Toyota Cheetahs’ lead before a comeback by the Isuzu Southern Kings saw Klaasen bag a second and Bjorn Basson another just four minutes later.
Venter got his second just past the hour mark, while Malcolm Jaer and Boan Venter completed the Toyota Cheetahs’ dominance.
Although he didn’t get on the score sheet on Saturday evening, the Toyota Cheetahs’ Rabz Maxwane finished the regular season as the top try scorer, with 14, while his 34 clean breaks were also the most in the competition.
The Free Staters’ Tian Schoeman kicked 59 conversions – eight of them on Saturday – to finish the season at the top of the list for two-point kicks.
Cheetahs (28) 61: Tries: Abongile Nonkontwana, Walt Steenkamp, Joseph Dweba, Shaun Venter (2), Louis Fouche, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Malcolm Jaer, Boan Venter. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (8).
Southern Kings (13) 25: Tries: Harlon Klaassen (2), Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Masixole Banda (2). Penalty goals: Banda (2).
Qualifiers and draw for PRO14 play-offs
With 21 Rounds of record-setting action in the books PRO14 Rugby can now confirm the line-ups for the Guinness PRO14 quarter-finals and semi-finals. All four Irish provinces – Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht – made the knock-out stages, where they will be joined by Glasgow Warriors from Scotland and Benetton Rugby from Italy.
Five of the six teams who have qualified for the Guinness PRO14 Final Series are previous champions while Benetton Rugby’s presence marks the first time that an Italian club has qualified for the knock-out stages.
Conference A will be represented by Glasgow Warriors (1), Munster Rugby (2) and Connacht Rugby (3) while Conference B will be represented by defending Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster Rugby (1), Ulster Rugby (2) and Benetton Rugby (3).
PRO14 Quarter-finals –
Saturday, 4 May (All SA kick-off times)
15h00: Munster Rugby (A2) v Benetton Rugby (B3) – Thomond Park, Limerick
17h35: Ulster Rugby (B2) v Connacht Rugby (A3) – Kingspan Stadium, Belfast
Friday, 17 May
19h35: Glasgow Warriors (A1) v winner of Ulster v Connacht – Scotstoun, Glasgow
Saturday, 18 May
15h00: Leinster (B1) v winner of Munster v Benetton – RDS Arena, Dublin
Issued by SA Rugby Communications