Tackle count stats tell a story
The Cheetahs bounced back brilliantly from last week's disappointment, as they beat the Reds 27-13 in their Round 14 Super Rugby encounter in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
It was a game of good fortune, especially for the Cheetahs, who saw the Reds fumble their way through 80 minutes of uncharacteristic play.
The stand-out feature was the Cheetahs' defensive effort - as they made more than twice the number of tackles that their opponents were forced to make.
Despite a number of line-breaks by the visitors, the Cheetahs still managed to shut out the Reds' key playmakers - Will Genia and Quade Cooper.
It saw the two Wallaby stars make an unprecedented number of errors and they became increasingly frustrated as the game wore on.
Despite having more than 60 percent of the possession and also territorial advantage, the Reds failed to get a try until the 78th minute - with the Cheetahs having used their limited opportunities and also tackled the luckless visitors into submission.
After the Reds had an early scoring effort overturned for midfield obstruction, the Cheetahs got the first try of the match in the fourth minute - a great charge down from Piet Van Zyl off a Will Genia kick, which he regathered and beat Quade Cooper to score in the corner. The conversion from Watts was wide, but the flyhalf added a penalty 10 minutes later to make it an 8-0 lead.
The Reds eventually opened their account at the end of the first quarter, as Quade Cooper slotted a penalty and added a second three minutes later - 6-8.
The Cheetahs' response was swift and brilliant. From a line-out the Cheetahs faked a maul, then Heinrich Brüssow dummied, before an inside pass to Piet van Zyl - who left the cover defence for dead to score in the right corner. Watts kicked the conversion and added a penalty (for a collapsed maul) to make it 18-6 after 28 minutes.
The Reds had a few rushes at the Cheetahs 22, but the home team's defence held strong and they took that 12-point lead into the break.
The Cheetahs opened the second half scoring with a Watts penalty in the 43rd minute, before the Reds had a second try denied to them by the TMO, who ruled that Quade Cooper's pass to fullback Luke Morahan was forward.
On the hour mark the Reds were again penalised at the scrum, allowing Watts to take the lead out to 24-6. And soon afterwards he made it 27-6 after an offside penalty - leaving the Reds a mountain to climb in the final 15 minutes.
The Reds kept pressing for some consolation - with the TMO finally ruling in their favour and replacement Ben Lucas being awarded a try in the 78th minute. Cooper added the extras - 13-27 and a chance of a losing bonus point.
However, there was to be no late glory for the visitors, as the Cheetahs won a turnover from the restart and hacked the ball into touch for a deserved win.
Man of the match: Will Genia and Quade Cooper tried their best to spark the Reds, but the bounce of the ball just didn't go their way. Adriaan Strauss had a stormer, including a couple of crucial intercepts that stopped dangerous moves by the Reds. Returning flank Pieter Labuschagne also had another blinder - showing his value in his first match back after injury. Heinrich Brussow, Philip van der Walt and Lodewyk de Jager did great work on defence. However, our award goes to Cheetahs scrumhalf Piet van Zyl - the man that sparked it all for the Cheetahs in the first half with two sublime tries.
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Van Zyl 2
Pens: Watts 5
For the Reds:
Pens: Cooper 2
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rynhardt Landman, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Ben Tapuai.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)