Ruan Pienaar, Cheetahs

Cheetahs legend Ruan Pienaar in action. Photo: EPCR website.

Perfect Pienaar powers Cheetahs to big away win

The Cheetahs laid down an early marker in the Challenge Cup when they chalked up an impressive 18-point triumph over Zebre away in Italy.

Ruan Pienaar, Cheetahs

Cheetahs legend Ruan Pienaar in action. Photo: EPCR website.

Ruan Pienaar was perfect from the tee in Cheetahs’ 33-15 win over Zebre Parma in their EPCR Challenge Cup opener at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Saturday. 

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The former South African international kicked four penalties and three conversions – tallying 18 points – as the Bloemfontein-based side routed their Italian counterparts. 

The 39-year-old converted tries from wing Cohen Jasper, inside centre Reinhardt Fortuin and replacement front row Louis van der Westhuizen as the South Africans dominated the contest against their United Rugby Championship rivals. 

Zebre Parma flyhalf Tiff Eden notched a lone first half penalty on a tough afternoon for the hosts before late tries from Alessandro Fusco and Simone Gesi brought some respectability to the scoreboard. 

The opening 40 minutes were controlled by the Cheetahs – with the boot of Pienaar contributing 11 points. In addition to scoring a trio of penalties, the Toyota Cheetahs star converted a Jasper try – the wing intercepting an errant Eden pass on halfway to gallop over under the posts. 

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Further tries followed in the second half as Fortuin and Van der Westhuizen cruised over the whitewash for the visiting side.  

Consolation scores from Zebre Parma’s Fusco and Gesi allowed the Italian crowd to find some solace in the final stages. 

Toyota Cheetahs have an All-South African meeting with HollywoodBets Sharks next Sunday in Round 2, while Zebre Parma host Oyonnax Rugby on Saturday. 

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Ruan Pienaar, Cheetahs
Ruan Pienaar of the Toyota Cheetahs during the 2023 Currie Cup Final between the Cheetahs and the Pumas at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, Free State on 24 June 2023 © Charle Lombard/BackpagePix