Waratahs beat Cheetahs 26-3



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New South Wales fullback Peter Hewat scored a try among 21 points Friday as the Waratahs beat South Africa’s Cheetahs 26-3 to consolidate their lead in rugby union’s Super 14. Hewat kept a perfect kicking record for the second match in a row, landing two conversions and four penalties to take his individual points tally for the season to 132.

His contribution helped disguise a mediocre performance by the competition leaders who were ahead 6-0 at halftime, 12-3 on penalties at three-quarter time and who took 71 minutes to score their first try.

Handling errors plagued both sides and the match took on a stacatto tempo as the Cheetahs called frequent injury breaks in an attempt to break the Waratahs’ continuity.

The Cheetahs had little to worry about as New South Wales’ run of high-scoring victories – they scored 156 points in their four previous matches – ended with a poor display of finishing.

Wallabies winger Wendell Sailor broke a try-scoring deadlock when he stepped through weak defense near the goal line for his fourth try of the season with about nine minutes left. Hewat made the scoreline respectable with a hallmark intercept try five minutes later and with full time beckoning.

New South Wales previously had three tries disallowed and the Cheetahs one as New Zealand referee Chris Pollock stamped his mark on the game.

Sailor crossed the line for the first time in the 29th minute but couldn’t ground the ball and seconds later No. 8 David Lyons skidded over under the goalposts but was wrestled off the ground and was unable to force the ball.

The Cheetahs had been over the Waratahs’ line in the fifth minute but were similarly denied a try when Pollock, with help from the video referee, ruled the ball hand not been grounded.

New South Wales had the better of the game, a larger share of possession and more scoring opportunities than the Cheetahs, but their finishing lacked the polish expected of a team with serious championship ambitions.

The Cheetahs defense held up well until steady pressure caused it to fracture in the last 10 minutes of the match. The South Africans created few chances and took their only points from a Willem de Waal penalty.

New South Wales 26 (Wendell Sailor, Peter Hewat tries; Hewat 2 conversions, 4 penalties),

Cheetahs 3 (Willem De Waal penalty).

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