South Africa’s Cheetahs escaped a scare in the first ever Super Rugby match in Singapore by coming from behind to beat the Sunwolves 31-32.
The Sunwolves took an early lead in the match by scoring four first half tries to lead 28-13 at half time before allowing the Cheetahs back into the match and to take the lead.
Akihito Yamada was the star for the Sunwolves as he scored the first hat-trick of Super Rugby tries for the Japanese side.
Yamada’s tries and a stellar kicking performance from Samoan flyhalf Tusi Pisi meant the partisan crowd of 8,808 dared to believe for large parts of the game, before wilting in the second half.
After a scrappy opening, it was the Sunwolves who led after four minutes when Yamada dived in the corner following some lacklustre Cheetah defending.
Pisi duly converted before the Cheetahs struck back with two penalties in quick succession, both from the boot of Niel Marais.
The Sunwolves roared back to life as Yamada added another try, with Pisi kicking another conversion. Marais then dragged the Cheetahs back, flinging himself onto the loose ball for the try before converting.
But the Sunwolves were not to be denied, as Yamada sealed his hat-trick and skipper Shota Hori added their fourth a minute before the half. Pisi made both conversions.
The Sunwolves then extended their 28-13 halftime advantage with Pisi hammering home a penalty.
The Cheetahs were not done yet, with quick tries from Uzair Cassiem and Marais narrowing the Sunwolves’ lead to four points, with Marais kicking both conversions.
The game swung in the way of the Cheetahs when Sunwolves were hit with a double blow as Pisi limped off on the 70 minute mark and Edward Quirk was sin-binned.
The away side took full advantage, with Boom Prinsloo adding a try and the South African side held on for their first win.
In the second half the Cheetahs bbrought on replacements who settled the game and Niel Marais scored his second try as the Cheetahs steadily worked their way back into the match.
Next week in Round 4 the Sunwolves host the Rebels in Tokyo while the Cheetahs return to South Africa where they will play the Lions in Johannesburg.
Final Score Sunwolves 31 (28) Cheetahs 32 (13)
Tries – A.Yamada 3, S.Horie
Pen – T.Pisi
Con – T.Pisi 4
Cards – E. Quirk (71st min yellow)
Tries – N.Marais 2,U.Cassiem, B.Prinsloo
Pen – N.Marais 2
Con – N.Marais 3
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant Ref 1:Shuhei Kubo
Assistant Ref 2:Aki Aso
TMO :Takashi Hareda
Attendance : 8039
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Harumichi Tatekawa, 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Yasutaka Sasakura, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Atsushi Hiwasa, 8 Edward Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Timothy Bond, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Keith Inagaki.
Replacements : 16.Takeshi Kizu,17. Masataka Mikami,18. Takuma Asahara , 19.Shinya Makabe, 20.Yoshiya Hosoda, 21, Kaito Shigeno, 22 Derek Carpenter, 23. Mifiposeti Paea
1. Ox Nche , 2. Jacques du Toit , 3. Johan Coetzee , 4. Carl Wegner , 5. Francois Uys (vc) , 6. Paul Schoeman , 7. Uzair Cassiem , 8. Henco Venter , 9. Shaun Venter , 10. Neil Marais , 11. Raymond Rhule , 12. William Small-Smith , 13. Francois Venter (C) , 14. Sergeal Petersen , 15. Sias Ebersohn
Replacements: 16. Torsten van Jaarsveld , 17. Charles Marais , 18. Maks van Dyk , 19. Reniel Hugo , 20. Hilton Lobberts , 21. Boom Prinsloo , 22. Tian Meyer , 23. Fred Zeilinga