Cheetahs pip Connacht at the death

Sat, 03 Mar 2018 19:36
Large cheetahs v connacht 2018 800

PRO14 REPORT: Niel Marais showed great composure from the tee to slot a 80th minute penalty to seal a late win for Cheetahs over Connacht at the Free State Stadium.

Two tries from wing Matt Healy and one from Eoin Griffin, combined with two penalties from the boot of Jack Carty, looked to have sealed Connacht's second win on the road.

But their efforts were not enough to see off the South Africans, who scored early through Uzair Cassiem and again in the second half through Sibhale Maxwane, with Marais kicking fourteen points for the win.

With the triumph, Cheetahs have closed the gap on Munster in second place in Conference A to just six points, whereas Connacht missed the opportunity to chase down Cardiff Blues in fourth.

Cassiem opened the scoring for the Cheetahs after just three minutes, picking and going on the blindside of a ruck five metres out to trot in untouched.

Niel Marais converted the try then added three more points to give the hosts a 10 point lead within 10 minutes.

Connacht responded through Healy, who was put in down the left after some fluid hands, and Jack Carty added the extras.

After Marais slotted another penalty, Healy then got his second in the same corner after the ball was spun out to him, but Carty couldn't convert to take the lead.

Marais knocked over yet another kick at goal after an explosive break from Craig Barry forced a penalty for Cheetahs, but Carty responded and converted an effort of his own just before half time.

The Irish flyhalf then took the opportunity to take the lead for the first time after the break, slotting his penalty to go 18-16 up.

He then made a slicing break after waves of pressure on the Cheetahs defence and off-loaded to Griffin who ran in under the posts.

The hosts' replied instantly with some great running, as Barry cut inside from his wing and passed to substitute Maxwane to cross the whitewash, with Marais adding the extras to close the gap to two points.

Connacht looked to have kept the Cheetahs out and were on track for just their second victory on the road, but the Cheetahs pushed on and were rewarded for their determination.

Clayton Blommetjies' monstrous kick to touch from a penalty meant the hosts had a line-out five metres out and managed to win a late penalty when Connacht failed to release on the floor.

Marais stepped up as the clock ticked towards 80 minutes and calmly slotted the ball between the posts to seal a dramatic victory at the death.

The scorers:

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Cassiem, Maxwane
Cons: N Marais 2
Pens: Marais 4

For Connacht:
Tries: Healy 2, Griffin
Cons: Carty 2
Pens: Carty 2


Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Renier Bernardo, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Sibhale Maxano.

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Pita Ahki, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 James Cannon, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley. 
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Dominic Robertson McCoy, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Niyi Adeolokun.

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse (South Africa), Jaco Kotze (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)


There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 23 March 2018
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Connacht v Edinburgh 19h35 Sportsground
Dragons v Cheetahs 19h35 Rodney Parade
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 19h35 Scotstoun
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Kings v Treviso 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 15h15 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h30 Thomond Park
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Ospreys v Leinster 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Jaguares v Lions 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Glasgow Warriors 16 13 1 2 65
Munster 17 10 0 7 54
Cheetahs 17 9 0 8 47
Cardiff Blues 17 9 0 8 42
Connacht 17 6 0 11 33
Ospreys 16 6 0 10 30
Zebre 16 4 0 12 22
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 17 13 1 3 64
Scarlets 17 12 1 4 61
Edinburgh 17 12 0 5 55
Ulster 16 9 1 6 46
Treviso 17 8 0 9 40
Dragons 17 2 2 13 17
Kings 17 1 0 16 9