Cheetahs burst Brumbies' bubble
Cheetahs burst Brumbies' bubbleSHARE
The Cheetahs caused a huge upset when they upstaged Australia's conference-leading Brumbies 27-24 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
It is a win that is all the more remarkable, given that the Brumbies arrived in South Africa fresh from a sound win over the Sharks last week.
The result not only burst the Brumbies' bubble, but did the Sharks an enormous favour.
It is also sweet revenge for the Cheetahs, who lost to the Brumbies in a preliminary play-off match in controversial circumstance in Canberra last year.
The Cheetahs also provided the blueprint for teams to overcome the Brumbies' dour kicking game.
It is a sound mix of ball-in-hand rugby and good variation with the out of hand kicking.
The Brumbies appear incapable of launching counters from deep and rely mostly on phase-play when deep inside the opposition half and a maul.
However, if teams keep the ball in the Brumbies' half and then run hard at them, the men from Canberra start making errors that gift the opposition opportunities for points.
The Cheetahs made most of the early play in the first half, but their reward came only in three-point increments – Johan Goosen kicking penalties in the third and seventh minutes.
Then the penalty count started mounting to a point where the referee issued to team warning to the Brumbies and then a yellow card to lock Scott Fardy for killing the ball at the breakdown.
Goosen also kicked that penalty as the home team took a 9-0 lead.
The Brumbies eventually got into their rhythm and despite a couple of missed shots at goal, Nic White eventually landed a penalty in the 21st minute to get his team on the board.
That sparked the Brumbies and it was a sublime grubber by White that created the first try – Coleman running onto the bouncing ball and going over in the corner, easily beating a half-hearted attempt at a tackle by Hennie Daniller.
White's conversion attempt was wide of the mark, but the scrumhalf slotted a penalty right on the half-time hooter – the visitors taking a 11-9 lead into the break.
However, the Cheetahs struck first after the break – Heinrich Brussow with a sublime inside pass to Shaun Venter, who then went wide to Willie le Roux on the wing. Goosen's conversion attempt was wide, but the Cheetahs were leading again – 14-11.
The next try was even more inventive – Elgar Watts, playing on a penalty advantage, launched a sublime cross-field kick that was collected by Goosen, who had been moved to fullback. Goosen added the conversions and suddenly it was a 10-point game – 21-11.
Goosen added a fourth penalty to give the Cheetahs a 24-11 lead, going into the final quarter.
White made it a 10-point game, after Coenie Oosthuizen was penalised at a tackle, before Heinrich Brussow was yellow-carded in the 72nd minute for kicking the ball away again after the whistle had gone.
The Brumbies set up a line-out and from a strong maul Stephen Moore enjoyed an armchair ride over the line. White's conversion made it a three-point game – 21-24.
However, Goosen slotted a drop-goal from inside his half, making it a six-point game – 27-21, with just on two minutes remaining.
And from there the Cheetahs hung tough for yet another unexpected win in a weekend of big upsets.
Man of the match: Nic White, if you ignore the number of niggly incidents he instigated, was great value to the Brumbies. Ben Mowen may have worn No.8 on his back, but he did some serious damage at the breakdown. Willie le Roux was again the creative spark and deservedly got his team's first try. Johannes Prinsloo was powerful with his carries and a real workhorse at the breakdown. Johan Goosen had his best game of the season, even featuring at fullback in the second half, and certainly a strong candidate. However, our award goes to Cheetahs flank Heinrich Brussow, who was again the team's energiser bunny – carrying the ball, making good metres, tackling his heart out, making life tough for the opposition at the breakdown, taking a few intercepts on defence and even winning a line-out.
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Le Roux, Goosen
Pens: Goosen 4
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Coleman, Moore
Pens: White 3
Yellow cards: Scott Fardy (Brumbies, 16 – repeated infringements, playing the ball while off his feet), Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs, 72 – repeated infringements, kicking the ball away)
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Johannes Prinsloo, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Waltie Vermeulen, 21 Renier Botha, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Riaan Smith.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Fotu Auelua, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Tom McVerry, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Pat McCabe.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)