Cheetahs power past Irish giants
PRO14 REPORT: The Cheetahs put in a commanding performance to record a 38-19 bonus-point win over Leinster in Bloemfontein on Friday.
After the South African side beat Zebre last weekend, tries from William Small-Smith, Torsten Van Jaarsveld, Retshegofaditswe Nche and Luther Obi made it two on the spin and inflicted a first defeat of the season on the Boys in Blue – despite a hat-trick of scores for Barry Daly.
The Cheetahs showed their intent right from the off, and took their chance for some early points on the board with Leinster offside in front of their posts, and flyhalf Ernst Stapelberg did the honours to make it 3-0 with just two minutes gone.
But the visitors responded well, Mick Kearney wrestled out just short of the line after Joey Carbery broke and combined with Isa Nacewa.
Leinster had their try after five minutes, working the ball out well to the left after sucking in the Cheetahs defence with a drive, and Daly was left with a simple finish – although Ross Byrne's conversion attempt missed.
The Cheetahs were back in front after eight minutes, with Leinster guilty of crossing and Stapelberg's kick from just short of halfway sailing through the uprights.
Ill-discipline from the Boys in Blue became a theme for the remainder of the half, as, despite ten minutes of Leinster pressure, the Cheetahs increased their advantage when Jack Conan was pinged for not rolling away just outside the 25.
Stapelberg obliged with the penalty, and the flyhalf was metronomic from the tee as he made it 12-5 on 26 minutes, Byrne costing his side yet another three points with a deliberate knock-on.
And just when Leinster looked ready to strike, taking the ball into Cheetahs territory, the hosts recovered possession and scored with a stunning length of the field break in the 36th minute.
The Cheetahs' forward pack put Leinster's defence on the back foot with a scrum moving forwards, and after Francois Venter made the break, centre partner Small-Smith was there in support to finish under the posts.
If that end to the first half didn't knock the stuffing out of Leinster, the start to the second did as James Tracy was sin-binned for a reckless tackle.
The Cheetahs numerical advantage up front paid immediate dividends as they got momentum from a driving maul and Van Jaarsveld rumbled over the line for a try – although Stapelberg missed for a change with the conversion to make the scoreline 24-5.
Rosko Specman was then a whisker away from finding Venter with the tryline at his mercy for a certain score, but moment later Nche finished off try number three with a powerful leg drive through a couple of Leinster defenders,
But despite a commanding deficit of 31-5, Leinster did not give in and two more scores for Daly set up an interesting finish.
His second on the hour mark was almost a carbon copy of the first as the Cheetahs committed men up front and were caught short out wide, and 12 minutes later he timed an inside-swerve from the left to perfection to beat three defenders after Josh van der Flier's break.
Lots of players were cramping up in the final stages and Leinster did not have quite enough in the tank to complete the comeback, with the exhausted Cheetahs snatching a bonus point as Obi intercepted replacement flyhalf Cathal Marsh with the clock ticking into the red..
Tries: Small-Smith, Van Jaarsveld, Nche, Obi
Cons: Stapelberg 3
Pens: Stapelberg 4
Tries: Daly 3
Cons: Byrne 2
Yellow card: James Tracy (Leinster, 44 - foul play, dangerous tackle)
Cheetahs: 15 Sergeal Petersen, 14 Rosco Specman, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Teboho Mohoje, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Nico Lee, 23 Luther Obi.
Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Noel Reid, 12 Isa Nacewa (captain), 11 Barry Daly, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Jordi Murphy, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Rhys Ruddock, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Rory O'Loughlin.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse (Wales), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)