Connacht win dour arm-wrestle
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: Connacht outsmarted a naive Cheetahs team to secure a 23-15 win at a wet Sportsground, in Galway, on Saturday.
The teams scored two tries each in a dour arm-wrestle, but the Irish province's superior kicking game secured the win for them.
The Cheetahs had no answer to the barrage of high bombs and deep kicks, often running into a green defensive wall.
Niyi Adeolokun scored a stunning try to help Connacht to their second victory in a row.
The 27-year-old's scintillating try along with Tom McCartney's second half score ensured Connacht built on their 20-16 win over Munster with another victory.
Shaun Venter went over for the Cheetahs and Makazole Mapimpi's late dot down in the corner set up a tense finish but they could not prevent a fourth defeat of the campaign.
In what was the first ever clash between the two sides, Connacht looked to assert their home advantage as Craig Ronaldson kicked over.
Six minutes later the Sportsground would see the game's decisive moment as a free-flowing move found Adeolokun who was able to turn on the after-burners and beat two defenders with ease before going under the posts.
This was Adeolokun's first start of the campaign and his try, along with a second Ronaldson penalty, kept Connacht out of the Cheetahs reach.
Cheetahs, who sat eight points clear of their Irish counterparts at the start of the match, struggled to impose themselves on the game with Ernst Stapelberg penalty on the stroke of half-time their only score in the first spell.
The South African side edged out Zebre in their previous outing but their chance of a comeback diminished when McCartney went over 11 minutes into the second half.
Connacht built off of a good line-out and once again found Adeolokun out wide who was dealt with on this occasion by the Cheetahs but they couldn't stop the ball finding its way to McCartney who went over with ease.
It may have taken until the 68th minute but the Cheetahs finally clicked into gear and got their first try of the night.
Connacht had been resilient in defence but Venter was able to break down their backline with an incisive break to bring the Southern Hemisphere side to within 12.
A Steve Crosbie penalty from the 10 metre line kept Connacht ticking over but a Cheetahs try five minutes from the end set up a nervy finish.
Mapimpi has loved his new life in the Guinness PRO14 and was on hand to dot down in the corner for his seventh try of the season and reduce the arrears to eight points.
In the end, eight points was too bigger gap to bridge in the final five minutes as Connacht made it two impressive victories on the spin.
Tries: Adeolokun, McCartney
Cons: Ronaldson 2
Pens: Ronaldson 2, Crosbie
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Mgijima, Mapimpi
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Darragh Leader, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Niyi Adeolokun, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon (captain), 7 Eoin McKeon, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 Conor McKeon, 22 Steve Crosbie, 23 Matt Healy.
Cheetahs: 15 Fred Zeilinga, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Makazola Mapimpi, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Junior Pokomela, 7 Jasper Wiese, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Hugo, Reniel, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Dennis Visser, 20 Rynier Bernardo, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Shaun Venter.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: John Lacey, Kieran Barry (Ireland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)