Cheetahs maul willing young Force team
MATCH REPORT: The Cheetahs got their build-up to their new European campaign off to a victorious start.
However, it was a nervy performance against a willing and very young Western Force team – winning 31-27 in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The Cheetahs outscored the Force by four tries to three in a game of contrasts.
While the Force relied on the skill end enthusiasm of backs like Harry Potter and Max Burey, the Cheetahs used their pack – all four tries coming from line-out mauls inside the Forced 22.
The teams meet again in Bloemfontein next week, with two more matches in Perth – in late September and early October.
These matches are preparation for the Cheetahs, who received an invite to return to the European Challenge Cup – which kicks off in December.
The Force is using the games in South Africa to blood some young and unheralded players ahead of next year’s Super Rugby season.
The Cheetahs took an early lead with a powerful maul try, hooker Marnus van der Merwe getting the armchair ride and Ruan Pienaar adding the conversion.
Flyhalf Max Burey opened the visitors’ account with a penalty.
The other Van der Merwe, flank Gideon, scored the Cheetahs’ second try – also getting an armchair ride in a powerful and fast-moving maul. Pienaar’s conversion made it 14-3.
Winning a turnover inside their 22, the Force launched a blistering counter – with wing Ronan Leahy finishing off a sublime score. Burey made it 10-14 with his conversion.
The Cheetahs hooker, Marnus van der Merwe, was next in the armchair, as the Cheetahs continued to maul their way over the line. Pienaar added the conversion – 21-10.
Burey then launched a subtle chip-kick, which Harry Potter latched onto for a second try by the visitors. Burey added the conversion to make to 17-21 at the half-time break.
The Force flyhalf, Burey, opened the second-half scoring with a penalty – making it a one-point game, 20-21.
Going into the final quarter, Burey squandered a chance to put his team ahead when he pushed a penalty shot well wide of the uprights.
The Cheetahs mauled their way over once again, replacement hooker Marko Janse van Rensburg getting the fourth try. Pienaar’s conversion made it an eight-point game – 28-20.
The Force replied with a try by Gio Leituala – following some good hands and great stepping through the tiring Cheetahs defence. Burey added the conversion to make it a one-point game again – 27-28.
Again the Cheetahs drove over from a line-out deep inside the Force 22, but this time it was held up.
With under two minutes remaining, the Force conceded a penalty in front of their uprights and Pienaar made it a four-point game – 31-27 – and gifting the hosts a nervy win.
For the Cheetahs
Tries: M van der Merwe 2, G van der Merwe, Janse van Rensburg
Cons: Pienaar 4
For the Western Force
Tries: Leahy, Potter, Leituala
Cons: Burey 3
Pens: Burey 2
Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwa Mafura, 14 Cohen Jasper, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Litha Nkula, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Friedle Olivier, 7 Sibabalo Qoma, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo, 3 Hencus van Wyk, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 Jeandrẻ Rudolph, 22 George Lourens, 23 David Brits.
Western Force: 15 Harry Potter, 14 George Poolman, 13 Sam Spink, 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Ronan Leahy, 10 Max Burey, 9 Henry Robertson, 8 Jeremy Williams, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Donny Freeman, 5 Lopeti Faifua, 4 Joshua Thompson, 3 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Marley Pearce.
Replacements: 16 Ford Hemi, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Regi Churchward, 19 Jackson Pugh, 20 Fa’amanu Kalolo, 21 Jack Grooby, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Gio Leituala.
Referee: Morné Ferreira
Assistant referees: Paul Mente, Griffin Colby
TMO: Quinton Immelman