WATCH| Mafura hat-trick inspires Cheetahs to victory over Lions

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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 09: Tapiwa Mafura of the Free State Cheetahs celebrates after scoring his try during the Currie Cup, Premier Division match between Fidelity ADT Lions and Toyota Cheetahs at Emirates Airline Park on April 09, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Harare – Zimbabwe rugby international Tapiwa Mafura stole the show in the Currie Cup Premier Division with a stunning hat trick of tries for the Free State Cheetahs as they thrashed a 14-man Lions team 52-15 in their clash at Ellis Park on Sunday afternoon.

The hosts started well when Darrien Landsberg went over in the second minute, and when his lock-partner  Raynard Roets was red-carded for dangerous play at a ruck, the Free State Cheetahs were leading by only 14-10 having scored two tries to one.

However, they added six more five-pointers to their tally to leave Emirates Airline Park with a full-house of five log points to cement their second place in the standings.

There were three yellow cards in the match, two of those to the visitors, but the red card proved more costly as  Cheetahs fullback  Mafura ran riot, scoring a hat-trick of tries, while Jeandre Rudolph chipped in with a brace for the team in orange.

The result meant the Mafura-inspired Free State Cheetahs moved level with the Pumas at the top of the Currie Cup table on 20 points while Western Province are now up to third and five points behind the leaders.

The Sharks (14) have moved into fourth above fifth-placed Lions still on 13 points, while Griquas, Bulls and Griffons bring up the rear, in sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

The 26-year-old lightning-quick Mafura, who is a key member of the Sables squad, was part of the Pumas that last season won the Currie Cup for the first time in their history by defeating Griquas 26-19 in the final in Kimberley

He is in his second stint at the Free State Cheetahs, having been a fringe member of their squad when they last won the Currie Cup in 2019.

After being on the fringes of the first squad during his first spell, Mafura has been playing a prominent role for the Bloemfontein outfit which is also competing in the European Challenge Cup, which is the second-tier European event below the European Champions Cup.

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