Cheetahs trip Sharks up
The Cheetahs scored three tries on their way to a 27-20 victory over the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Sharks will be the only South African team in the Super Rugby play-offs this year, but they were outplayed by their hosts who made far better use of their opportunities.
The Sharks started at a ferocious pace, putting the Cheetahs under heavy pressure from the start, but it was the hosts that got the first points on the scoreboard.
Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen kicked a penalty as early as the second minute to give his side the early lead.
That gave the Cheetahs valuable momentum which they used to pin the Sharks down in their own half.
It resulted in the first try of the evening for the hosts, when the Cheetahs put together a driving maul, allowing flanker Torsten van Jaarsveld to dive over for the five-pointer.
Goosen converted to give the Cheetahs a ten point lead.
The Sharks regrouped and launched numerous attacks that forced the Cheetahs to infringe.
Sharks flyhalf Tim Sweil kicked his first penalty of the evening in the 19th minute after missing an earlier attempt.
Soon thereafter the Cheetahs were left to ponder their defensive structures after Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach broke away from a line-out and beat a number of Cheetahs defenders to score his seventh try of the season.
Sweil converted to draw the scores level at 10-10.
Sweil was again called to kick a further penalty to give the Sharks the lead for the first time in the game.
The Cheetahs kept attacking, however, and soon No,8 Philip van der Walt dotted down in the 33rd minute to regain the lead for the hosts.
Goosen kicked the conversion, leaving the Sharks four points behind at half-time.
The hard-fought contest at the break down area continued in the second half, with both the Cheetahs and Sharks conceding penalties as the result of heavy pressure.
The hosts made the better of the possession and Springbok lock Lood de Jager crashed over for a try, which Goosen converted to stretch the lead to 11 points.
The Sharks tried their best to make up the deficit, but the Cheetahs kept building momentum and soon resulted in more points as Goosen kicked his second penalty of the evening to leave the Sharks trailing by two converted tries.
The Sharks lost momentum as a result of poor handling errors or penalties, but finally scored their second try of the evening after replacement hooker Bismarck du Plessis burst over and Sweil converted.
Man of the match: Cobus Reinach and JP Pietersen were impressive for the Sharks whilst the biggest heroes for the Cheetahs were in the pack with Teboho Mohoje and captain Adriaan Strauss making an impact, but the stand-out player was Lodewyk de Jager who reigned in the line-out and made his presence felt in the loose as well.
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Van Jaarsveld, Van der Walt, De Jager
Cons: Goosen 3
Pens: Goosen 2
For the Sharks:
Tries: Reinach, Du Plessis
Cons: Swiel 2
Pens: Swiel 2
Yellow card: Johan Goosen (Cheetahs, 80 mins – Cynical infringement)
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Caylib Oosthuizen, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean Deysel (captain), 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Thomas du Toit, 17 Bismarck du Plessis, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Etienne Oosthuizen, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Odwa Ndungane, 23 Tonderai Chavhanga.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)