Cheetahs Rhule in Sydney
Cheetahs Rhule in SydneySHARE
The Cheetahs kept the first part of their Australian dream tour alive, beating the Waratahs 27-26 in Sydney on Friday.
It was the Cheetahs' first-ever back-to-back victories in Australasia, following their impressive win over the Highlanders last week.
With the Western Force awaiting in Perth next week, their unprecedented two-from-two can become an even more rare three-from-three.
It was as close as the margin suggests, with the visitors outscoring the home team by three tries to two.
The Waratahs looked to have sown up the win midway through the second half, after a string of calls went their way, but the Cheetahs again displayed their never-say-die attitude.
With wing Raymond Rhule scoring two sublime tries, the second coming with 10 minutes left on the clock, the Cheetahs eked out a deserving win.
The Cheetahs completely dominated in the stats column in the early stages – with 70 percent possession and 70 percent territory in the opening 10 minutes.
As the Waratahs got hold of more possession, they started asking questions of the Cheetahs' defence – with some success.
With the possession stats going their way, the home team also seemed to get the benefit of all the 50-50 calls going their way.
The Cheetahs continued to defend bravely, but it was expected that gaps would eventually appear. However, the men from Bloemfontein held on and eventually won by turning over the Waratahs after the full-time hooter had sounded and the home team looking for the winning points.
There were also major concern for the Tahs after Berrick Barnes left the field with a fractured or badly dislocated wrist midway through the first half, after a big tackle on Francois Uys. It was a huge blow for the Wallaby utility, who was playing in his first game back after a knee injury.
The Cheetahs also suffered a first-half injury setback, with Francois Viljoen going off. Heinrich Brüssow's first action as a replacement was to miss a crucial tackle.
The Cheetahs got off to a flying start – with a little chip from Willie Le Roux, who regathered and then slipped a great pass to Robert Ebersohn, who ran in untouched. Johan Goosen added the extras and the visitors were 7-0 up after a minute.
Brendan McKibbin got a penalty back minutes later, before the teams settled down in a period of constant phases play, and then McKibbin slotted a second to make it 6-7 after 12 minutes..
Just before the end of the first quarter the Cheetahs' Bok wing Raymond Rhule got his first Super Rugby try – the visitors winning a turnover near the Waratahs' 10-metre line. Quick hands and some strong forwards running at the opposition eventually created space on the left wing, where Rhule went over with two tacklers hanging on.
McKibbin missed another penalty and then the Waratahs spilled a ball metres from the line, as the Waratahs looked to get back in the game.
However, Peter Betham – stepping through a soft tackle of Heinrich Brüssow and sprinting 30-odd metres downfield to score the Waratahs' first try. McKibbin's conversion made it 13-14.
Goosen stretched the lead to four points (17-13), when the Waratahs went off their feet at a tackle on their, as the Waratahs' high error count continued to bedevil their game.
The Waratahs' next try was a very fortune score – with the TMO ruling that an obstruction did not have a material influence on play and then Adam Ashley-Cooper being allowed to have two attempts at grounding the ball, the TMO again ruling in favour of the home team.
McKibbin added the conversion to make it 20-17 at the break.
The calls kept going against the Cheetahs after the break, but McKibbin fluffed an early sitter.
The Waratahs, who continually infringement at the breakdown, were then penalised twice in quick succession – with Goosen kicking the second of those penalties to level it all up (20-all).
Still the calls kept going against the Cheetahs and with 20 minutes left on the clock McKibbin regained the lead for the Waratahs, after yet another breakdown penalty.
With the Waratahs still infringing almost at will, a penalty had to go the Cheetahs' way eventually and with 12 minutes left on the clock Goosen had a chance to level the scores – but hooked it badly, his first miss of the match.
However, from the deep restart Willie le Roux again produced a sublime chip-'n-chase to set up a great attacking chance for the visitors. Eventually, after a few strong phases, Raymond Rhule cut back on the angle to go over for his second try. Goosen's conversion gave the Cheetahs a four-point (27-24) lead.
Another breakdown penalty gave McKibbin a shot right in front and he made no mistake – 26-27 with seven minutes left on the clock.
The Waratahs now threw everything into attack, but a few poor options – some poorly executed chip-kicks – allowed the Cheetahs' defence to hold firm near halfway.
They did so superbly, eventually turning the ball over by holding up the Waratahs after the full-time hooter had sounded – a match-winning turnover if ever there was one.
Man of the match: For the Waratahs Paddy Ryan made some really strong runs, but Michael Hooper seemed to prefer running into gaps and was far more effective. Sarel Pretorius had a fine return to Sydney as well, even if his passing game still leaves a lot to be desired. However, Willie le Roux's sublime skills created two tries – as he chipped and collected twice – for two crucial tries. He gets our award.
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Betham, Ashley-Cooper
Cons: McKibbin 2
Pens: McKibbin 4
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Ebersohn, Rhule 2
Cons: Goosen 3
Pens: Goosen 2
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Pat McCutcheon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (captain), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Mitchell Chapman, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Ben Volavola, 22 Rob Horne.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johan Sadie, 2 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuisen, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Heinrich Brüssow, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)