Cheetahs claw their way to a win



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Never write off a Cheetah especially a wounded one. That was the lesson the Sharks learnt at the Absa Stadium in Durban on Saturday when they lost their home Super 14 rugby encounter against the Free Staters by a single point in a 26-27 defeat, in which the Cheetahs also picked up a valuable bonus point.

The Sharks had led for three quarters of the game and were 20-10 ahead at the break but as the extremely hot and humid weather cooled in the face of a rain shower towards evening tide, the Free State fighters came back with a vengeance to outscore the home side by four tries to three.

From the outset the Sharks, after their great opening round win against the Chiefs last weekend, again showed passion and determination with some hard tackling on the fast moving Cheetahs backs. And they were full of early running themselves, but not nearly as cohesive as was the case last weekend. It let the Cheetahs in on a masterful regrouping exercise and indeed in the second half they were the far more likely to mount an offensive score.

The Sharks had two long range last minutes penalties at the posts in a bid to reverse the one point scoreline but both Ruan Pienaar and Percy Montgomery were short of the target. So it was down to the wire as the Sharks had prop BJ Botha stretchered off eight minutes from the end as the Cheetahs kept their cool and gained a morale boosting triumph.

For the Sharks who now embark on a long and tough haul of New Zealand and Australia there was at least the satisfaction of a `narrow losers’ bonus point. In retrospect, however, it was not the greatest of matches.

The Cheetahs missed several first half chances while the Sharks took theirs. In the second half the roles were reversed as the game was marked by more and more aimless kicking upfield.

The Cheetahs showed more cohesion in stringing together the attacking options behind a well organised pack of forwards and in the end were the better team if only by a short head. In a surprise move the Sharks management team made wholesale changes before the kick-off with Percy Montgomery slotting in at fullback, Brent Russell on the wing and rookie Bradley Barritt into flyhalf.

The Cheetahs introduced Gaffie du Toit on the left wing and he again proved problematical to the home side with a fine opening try.

On the opposite wing Giscard Pieters twice eluded the Sharks covering defence for good scores and their fourth went to flanker Kabamba Floors. Montgomery scored the first Sharks try, Albert van den Bergh the second and Barritt – after a breakaway intercept by Gcobani Bobo – dotted down the third for the Sharks.


Cheetahs 27 (10)
Giscard Pieters (2),
Gaffie du Toit,
Kabama Floors.
Meyer Bosman (2).
Penalties: Meyer Bosman (1)

Sharks 26 (20)
Percy Montgomery,
Albert van den Bergh,
Bradley Barritt.
Conversions: Percy Montgomery (1).
Penalties: Percy Montgomery (3)

Source : Sapa /ar

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