The Toyota Cheetahs ended off their Kickoff Series on a stellar note, scoring 11 tries as they walloped the hapless EP Elephants 71-12 in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
It was apparent from the start that the only real question would be how big the scoreline would be in favour of the home side and underlined once again just how far the Elephants have to go before they can be competitive at this level.
There were moments where the Elephants showed promise, but for the most part they were backpedalling and trying to stop the floodgates from opening as the Cheetahs ran at them from all angles.
Former Grey College star Marcell Muller showed why he is so highly rated as he took full advantage of his debut run to score the opening two tries but was denied a hat-trick when a replay showed a foot in touch late in the second half.
Still, it was a reminder of how much young talent there is in the country, something which was echoed by the Elephants’ star Xolela Payi, who scored the two Elephants’ tries in the game.
The Cheetahs are hoping for more international competition, but their performance would have left an indelible impression on the local rugby scene, especially when they aren’t sure what their future holds.
There is too much talent in the region to go wasted, and the tries they scored showed how they can use the altitude to their advantage to run teams off their feet.
The outside backs of Rhyno Smith, Muller and Craig Barry showed why they are also among the best attacking options in the country by scoring five tries between them.
In the end the Elephants were hopelessly outgunned and struggled to plug the gaps. But Payi’s two tries will give them hope on the long road ahead that they have to travel. That, and at times the strength in their scrum, will be something to build on.
SCORERS:Toyota CheetahsTries : Marcell Muller (2), Wilmar Arnoldi (2), Craig Barry, Oupa Mohoje, Rhyno Smith (2), Tian Meyer (2), Chris Smith
Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (8)
EP Elephants:Tries: Xolela Payi (2)
Conversion: Innocent Radebe