The Cheetahs slumped to their fifth consecutive loss as the Brumbies ran out 20-3 victors in Canberra on Saturday. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
Trailing 13-3 at the break, the Cheetahs managed to subdue the Brumbies for much of the second half, but couldn't prevent the hosts from picking up their 11th straight win at home, and seventh in succession against the Cheetahs in Canberra.
The Cheetahs' sole points came through a Joe Pietersen penalty on an evening where they were outmatched by their opponents across the board.
Coach Naka Drotské made eight changes from the side that went down to the Chiefs last weekend, but the Cheetahs found themselves trailing after just three minutes, as Christian Leali'ifano crashed through a weak tackle-attempt from Pietersen to open the scoring.
The Brumbies bossed the opening exchanges, but poor finishing let them down at crucial moments. The Cheetahs defence was almost non-existent, as they missed 11 tackles in the first 15 minutes of the match.
The Cheetahs' dangerous outside backs saw very little of the ball, while their usually reliable rolling maul was unable to get going in the face of some strong Brumbies defence. The Cheetahs came into the match with the worst scrum success rate in the competition, and struggled once again against a fired-up Brumbies pack.
Early in the second half, the Brumbies turned down a kickable penalty as they looked to transform the dominance into points. From the resultant maul, David Pocock came up just short, but the Brumbies recycled for Blake Enever to go over for his first Vodacom Super Rugby try.
Some last-ditch defending kept Henry Speight from extending the Brumbies' lead midway through the second half, as the Cheetahs improved their defensive effort. However, they offered very little on attack, with much of their play happening behind the advantage line.
The Cheetahs will get one final shot at a tour victory against the Force in Perth next weekend, before flying home to South Africa to face the Reds the following week.
Brumbies – Tries: Christian Leali'ifano, Blake Enever. Conversions: Leali'ifano (2). Penalties: Leali'ifano (2).
Cheetahs – Penalty: Joe Pietersen.
Brumbies – 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 James Dargaville, 13 Henry Speight, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joseph Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Ita Vaea, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Nigel Ah Wong, 23 Lausii Taliauli.
Cheetahs – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 11 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Tienie Burger, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Rayno Benjamin.
Photo: Stefan Postles/Getty Images