Highlanders leave it late to beat Cheetahs


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Highlanders replacement Chris Noakes kicked a last gasp penalty to snatch a late 33-36 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The Highlanders have played the Cheetahs seven times and have now beaten them on all seven occassions.

The Cheetahs led the Highlanders for 79 minutes of the match and could have won the clash with a penalty right in front of the posts but Sias Ebersohn hooked the penalty.

A minute later the Cheetahs were penalised for holding on and Noakes kicked the final penalty to win the match.

At half time with the Cheetahs leading 23-9 it looked like the Cheetahs would get their first ever Super Rugby victory over the Highlanders.

With 20 minutes to play, the Cheetahs still led comfortably with 30-9, but two tries by replacement scrum half Jimmy Cowan and one by utility back Chris Noakes helped to provide the upset for the team from New Zealand.

The home side’s replacement fly half, Sias Ebersohn, had an opportunity to kick a penalty for the victory in the dying seconds, but he missed right in front.

His counterpart, Chris Noakes, slotted one a minute later to give his side the victory.

For the better part, the Cheetahs looked like the team to beat, but after they lost their star fly half Johan Goosen to injury once again, the wheels came of for the Bloemfontein-based side.

Goosen contributed 21 points to his side’s total, which included a brilliant try in the corner in the second half.

But the youngster, who started from the bench two weeks ago against the Chiefs because of a shoulder injury, re-injured himself in his dive for the corner and left the field on a stretcher.

The Cheetahs will have mixed feelings over their performance.

They showed good intent early on and put the Highlanders under pressure from the get go.

Goosen slotted his team’s first penalty in the fourth minute after the Cheetahs had the visitors in all sorts of trouble on their goal line.

The Highlanders early on made a lot of lateral runs which enabled the Cheetahs to easily put them under pressure with some impressive tackling.

Highlanders flyhalf Mike Delaney finally got his team on the score board with a penalty in the 10th minute.

Big Cheetahs prop Coenie Oosthuizen scored his side’s first five pointer, diving over after the Highlanders were yet again trumped at the breakdown.

Goosen converted, but offside play by the Cheetahs allowed Delaney to get the Highlanders back into striking distance.

He kicked some huge line kicks, succeeded with all his kicks at goal and completely outshone Delaney on the attack. He kicked another penalty in the 23rd minute to stretch the lead.

The Highlanders got frustrated at the breakdown and after repeated infringements and a warning by referee Marius Jonker, who sin-binned hooker Andrew Hore for negative play.

Goosen slotted the penalty with ease and the Cheetahs found themselves in control 12 minutes before half time.

Some brawling on both sides occurred in the last minutes before half time and the Highlanders lock James Haskell got a yellow card for a punch to Cheetahs flanker Justin Downey.

The touch judge suggested a red card, but Jonker showed a yellow as well as a white card to have the incident reviewed.

That left the visitors with only 13 men and the Cheetahs in a good attacking position. It was only a matter of time before the home side struck again, this time via lock Andries Ferreira to help the home side to a half time lead of 23-9.

The Cheetahs came out in the second half all guns blazing and almost scored immediately, but flanker Heinrich Brussow was held up in the tackle.

The Highlanders looked a little more composed on the attack, but the Cheetahs upped their defence and left little space for the visitors.

Soon afterwards Goosen capped his good performance with a try form 60 metres out, scoring in the corner, but injuring his shoulder in the process.

His replacement Ebersohn kicked the conversion while Goosen left the field on a stretcher.

The Cheetahs lost huge momentum after Goosen departed and replacement Chris Noakes scored under the upright and converted to get the Highlanders back in the game.

The home side’s defence started showing cracks and when replacement scrum half Cowan scored twice with 15 minutes remaining the scores were tied at 30 points each.

Ebersohn settled things down with a penalty kick in the 70th minute, but Noakes answered back soon thereafter.

The home side kept on attacking and after 11 phases got the penalty in front but to his dismay Ebersohn missed it.

Noakes however, made no mistake when he kicked for victory soon thereafter.

Final Score Cheetahs 33 (23) Highlanders 36 (9)


Tries – C. Oosthuizen, A. Ferreira, J. Goosen

Pen – J. Goosen 3, S. Ebersohn
Con – J. Goosen 2, S. Ebersohn
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – C. Noakes, J. Cowan 2
Pen – M. Delany 3, C. Noakes 2
Con – M. Delany, C. Noakes 2
Drop –
Cards – A. Hore (yellow), J. Haskell (yellow and white)

Match Officials
Marius Jonker
Assistant Ref 1: Sindile Mayende
Assistant Ref 2: Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Shaun Veldsman



15. Hennie Daniller, 14. Cameron Jacobs, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Andries Strauss, 11. Willie le Roux, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Tewis de Bruyn, 8. Philip van der Walt, 7. Justin Downey, 6. Heinrich Br’ssow, 5. Izak van der Westhuizen, 4. Andries Ferreira, 3. WP Nel, 2. Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1. Coenie Oosthuizen.

Replacements: 16. Hercu Liebenberg, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. George Earle, 19. Ashley Johnson, 20. Piet van Zyl, 21. Sias Ebersohn, 22. Philip Snyman.


1. Jamie Mackintosh (C,) 2. Andrew Hore, 3. Chris King, 4. Josh Bekhuis, 5. Jarrad Hoeata, 6. Adam Thomson, 7. James Haskell, 8. Nasi Manu, 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Mike Delany, 11. Hosea Gear, 12. Shaun Treeby, 13. Tamati Ellison, 14. Buxton Popoali’i, 15. Ben Smith.

Replacements: 16. Jason Rutledge, 17. Ma’afu Fia, 18. Culum Retallick, 19. Doug Tietjens, 20. Jimmy Cowan, 21. Chris Noakes, 22, Siale Piutau.

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