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Cheetahs pull off shock Crusaders victory

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Article Published: Saturday 14 May 2011|

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The Cheetahs pulled off a shock 33-20 Super Rugby victory over the Crusaders in Bloemfontein with a much improved defensive performance.

The result is a similar result to the last time the Crusaders played in Bloemfontein as they lost 20-13 in 2009.

The Cheetahs outscored the Crusaders by three tries to two and held off a massive late charge from attacking Crusaders in the final quarter.

While the Crusaders started the match without a number of their star players their starting line up included Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Sonny Bill Williams for the first time this year.

The victory may have come at a price for the Cheetahs though as they lost Heinrich Brussow in the first half to a hamstring injury.

The Crusaders may also have paid for the loss as they took off Sonny Bill Williams at half time.

The Bloemfontein-based franchise have been among the also-rans of the southern hemisphere championship for several seasons, but a mid-season recovery also claimed the scalps of the Brumbies and Golden Lions.

The Cheetahs turned around a 17-16 half-time deficit to dominate the second half and owed their victory to heroic defence, opportunism on attack, and 23 points from young fly-half Sias Ebersohn, who missed just one of eight kicks at goal.

It did not help the home team that injury-prone Brussouw had to come off with a hamstring strain midway through the opening half, but peroxide blonde Kabamba Floors proved a superb replacement.

Fly half Carter contributed 12 points before being replaced by Matthew Berquist 12 minutes into the second half while McCaw was constantly involved in the forward exchanges as he made only his third appearance of the season.

Victory left the Cheetahs in mid-table with 29 points -- 11 fewer than the Waratahs team occupying the final play-off place -- while Crusaders stayed in fourth, six points behind leaders Reds.

Sias Ebersohn kicked a penalty before a brilliant Robert Fruean midfield break sent Zac Guildford over for a try that Carter converted and the All Blacks pin-up added a penalty soon after.

Back came Cheetahs with Robert Ebersohn, the 22-year-old twin brother of Sias, dotting down after the Crusaders failed to deal with a kick ahead and a successful conversion left the teams level at 10-10 with 18 minutes gone.

Sias Ebersohn landed a couple of penalties before Carter ended a 12-phase pounding of the Cheetahs try-line by diving over and he converted to give the seven-time champions a one point advantage at the break.

Another Sias Ebersohn penalty was followed by a try from the pivot which he converted before Berquist cut the gap to six points with 18 minutes remaining before a now frenzied crowd.

Flank Ashley Johnson, who looks like an 1980s pop star with his mob of jet-black hair, had the final say with an intercept try which Sias Ebersohn converted to finish with 23 points -- one less than his haul last weekend.

"It was a great day for Cheetahs rugby. We have been through some tough times so all credit to the guys and our coaches," said exhausted Cheetahs hooker and captain Adriaan Strauss.

"Defence is an area where we have improved a lot although we did give Crusaders a few easy gaps."

"Although we had a 13-point lead I didn't feel confident of victory until the final minute."

Final Score Cheetahs 33 Crusaders 20

Scorers

Cheetahs
Tries - R Ebersohn, S Ebersohn, A Johnson
Pen - S Ebersohn 4
Con - S Ebersohn 3
Drop -
Cards -

Crusaders
Tries - Z Guildford, D Carter
Pen - D Carter, M Berquist
Con - D Carter 2
Drop -
Cards -

Match Officials
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Teams

Cheetahs:Riaan Viljoen, Riaan Smit, Robert Ebersohn, Barry Geel, Ryno Benjamin, Sias Ebersohn, Sarel Pretorius, Davon Raubenheimer, Ashley Johnson, Heinrich Brussow, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Francois Uys, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Coenie Oosthuizen.

Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Lourens Adriaanse, Waltie Vermeulen, Kabamba Floors, Tewis de Bruyn, Naas Olivier, Hennie Daniller

Crusaders : 1. Ben Franks, 2. Corey Flynn, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Chris Jack, 6. George Whitelock, 7. Richie McCaw (c), 8. Kieran Read, 9. Willi Heinz, 10. Dan Carter, 11. Zac Guildford, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 13. Ryan Crotty, 14. Robbie Fruean, 15. Tom Marshall

Replacements :16. Quentin MacDonald, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Joe Wheeler , 19. Matt Todd, 20. Steve Alfeld, 21. Matt Berquist, 22. Brent Ward

 
 
 
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