Cheetahs outrun willing Kings
Cheetahs outrun willing KingsSHARE
The Cheetahs took a giant leap towards the Super Rugby play-offs, with a bonus-point 34-22 win over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The visitors, outscoring the hosts by four tries to one, moving into the top six – sitting pretty in fourth place for at least a couple of hours.
The Cheetahs, although lacking in terms of execution, made their intentions clear – they were going to stretch the Kings to the limit.
As has been the case all season, the Kings' defence was willing and enthusiastic – helped in no small measure by the leeway afforded to some of their more debatable tactics.
But you got the feeling it would be just a matter of time till they found their rhythm and timing – busting the dam wall. And the more the Cheetahs ran, the higher the penalty count mounted against a tiring Kings defence in the second half.
Credit to the men from PE, they kept fighting to the bitter end even though they were well beaten, they were not humiliated.
The scrums were a bit of a mess, with the Cheetahs getting the better of their opponents the longer the game went on. In the line-outs the teams both seemed comfortable on their own ball.
However, the breakdown was a dogfight, marked by the numerous penalties that stopped the game from getting any momentum in the first half. It improved after the break, but there were still far too many transgressions.
The Kings had the better of the early exchanges, taking the ball through multiple phases and winning a penalty, which Demetri Catrikilis slotted for an early 3-0 lead. The Cheetahs' response was an energetic attack which earned them a penalty and three points from the boot of Elgar Watts – 3-all after six minutes.
SP Marais was just wide of the upright with a shot from well over 50 metres out, as the first 10 minutes were dominated by penalties.
However, Catrikilis kept the scoreboard ticking with two penalties from bout 40 metres out – 9-3 after 23 minutes.
The Cheetahs continued to run at the Kings, without much success, till they earned a scrum penalty in the 29th minute – which watts slotted to narrow the gap to 6-9.
Catrikilis made it a 6-point game against six minutes from the break, after the Cheetahs were again penalised at the breakdown – 12-6.
Just before the half-time break the Cheetahs eventually found the crack in the defensive wall their were looking for, Willie le Roux pouring through and off-loading to Johann Sadie for the first try. Watts added the conversion – 13-12 at the break.
Catrakilis managed to get the Kings' noses ahead seven minutes into the second half, after the Cheetahs were pinged for a high tackle.
This time the Cheetahs' response was a far more swift and a lot more brutal – scrumhalf Piet van Zyl going over for his team's second try, after the forwards had taken up the ball powerfully. Watts added the extras – 20-15 just after the 50-minute mark.
And their expansive approach paid more dividends five minutes later – again some slick handling by Willie le Roux putting Johan Sadie over. Watts made it 27-15 after 56 minutes.
It wasn't long before Le Roux got reward for his creative play, this time Sadie setting him up for the bonus-point try. Watts's conversion made it 34-15 after 63 minutes.
The Kings continued to plug away, looking for the consolation score, and it came one minute from time when replacement Nicolas Vergallo found a rare hole in the Cheetahs' defence. George Whitehead kicked the conversion – making it 22-34 after the final hooter.
Man of the match: Those hard-tackling Kings loose forwards – Cornell du Preez, Luke Watson and Wimpie van der Walt deserve a mention. The Cheetahs pack, almost to a man, showed great enthusiasm and sublime skills – their tight forwards way above what you normally see from the big men. However, our award goes to Cheetahs wing Willie le Roux – who popped up everywhere, even at scrumhalf and most often as first receiver. However, it was his creative genius that helped the Cheetahs create the cracks in a tight defensive line.
For the Southern Kings:
Pens: Catrikilis 5
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Sadie 2, Van Zyl, Le Roux
Cons: Watts 4
Pens: Watts 2
Southern Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Luke Watson (captain), 6 Wimpie van der Walt, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steve Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Rynier Bernado, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Shane Gates, 22 George Whitehead.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagné, 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 Rynhard Landman, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Raymond Rhule.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwessen (South Africa)