Cheetahs make history in Perth
The Cheetahs won three consecutive matches on tour for the first time when they beat the Western Force 19-10 in Perth on Saturday.
It was a historic day for the Cheetahs, who won three consecutive matches in Australasia for the first time in their existence.
And they did it in the most beguiling way. They do it with a laugh and a quirkiness on the one hand and on the other hand with skill and determination. The 2013 Cheetahs know how to tackle, a lesson not previously taught in Bloemfontein. Even when there were moments of playground brawling, Lappies Labuschagne could end it all with an amused smile. But all of that does not take away from their determination, and determination had a lot to do with this win before they went off to the airport to head for home.
It was not a happy day for the Force, playing their first game at smart NIB Stadium, at home in Perth at last, ardent players before ardent fans. It was also not a great day for Super Rugby as the match was pretty pedestrian. Poor handling and a plethora of other errors, including 20 penalties, saw to that.
Even after the Cheetahs had tapped a penalty and set up a promising movement, all of which suggested an expansive game, the game did not really get going. The first score, which was long in coming, was a penalty, goaled from straight in front by Riaan Smit whose goal-kicking on the Perth night was flawless, unlike that of Sias Ebersohn who missed two relatively easy penalty kicks at goal in the first part of the first half. In the second half Jayden Hayward missed a sitter.
One of Sias Ebersohn's penalty opportunities showed the folly of kicking. Willie le Roux, the quirkiest of them all but sometimes capable of genius, was darting down the left wing inside the Force half when he grubbered ahead with just Will Tupou in front of him. But Tupou evaded and ran, and play stopped with a penalty to the Force five metres from the Cheetahs' line.
After 24 minutes, the Cheetahs led 3-0. The penalty followed a penalty tapped by Sarel Pretorius that led to a 50-metre Cheetah attack with Philip van der Walt and then Raymond Rhule close to scoring. They did score because the referee penalised Toby Lynn for being offside five metres from his line and in front of his posts.
The lead did not last long as the Cheetahs became silly well inside their own 22. They won a turnover and had plenty of time to clear but instead threw the ball about . Raymond Rhule turned and threw the ball at Toby Lynn who knocked the ball back to Chris Alcock. From Alcock the ball went right to Kyle Godwin who gave to Angus Cottrell who gave an excellent pass to Winston Stanley who raced 15 metres to score in the right corner as Sarel Pretorius and Robert Ebersohn tried to tackle him. Sias Ebersohn, having missed two easier kicks, goaled the conversion from touch. 7-3 to the Force after 28 minutes.
Five minutes later, Angus Cottrell of the Force took out a supporting player in a line-out and Smit goaled. 7-6, which was the half-time score.
Sias Ebersohn went off injured and Hayward replaced him and was the first to score in the second half, goaling from a tackle infringement, and the Force led 10-6 with 21 minutes to play. Just after this he missed the sitter and then the Cheetahs pushed their score up, and two Smit penalties gave them a 12-10 lead with 8 minutes to play.
The Force clearly decided that they really wanted to win and spread the ball wide, but near their 10-metre line Ben McCalman lost the ball forward in Robert Ebersohn's sharp tackle. Francois Uys booted the ball ahead and Le Roux chased it. The ball stood up in the most benign way and off Le Roux went, brandishing a triumphant finger till he rounded it off with a swanky dive. That try with Smit's simple conversion deprived the Force of a bonus point which they probably deserved.
When the final whistle blew, coaches Naka Drotské and Os du Randt were down on the touchline, ready to share their players' delight.
Man of the Match: The easiest – and perhaps fairest – choice would be of all three of the Cheetahs' loose forwards – Heinrich Brüssow, Philip van der Walt and Lappies Labuschagne. True they have help from all the other forwards, including young Lodewyk de Jager of the high tackle count, but that trio is at the heart of Cheetah achievement in 2013. Our choice is Philip van der Walt of the many carries and many tackles.
Con: S Ebersohn
For the Cheetahs:
Try: Le Roux
Pens: Smit 4
Western Force: 15 Will Tupou, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan (captain).
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Sam Wykes, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Matt Hodgson, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jayden Hayward.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johan Sadie, 2 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuisen, 18 Rynhardt Landman, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)