The Cheetahs held their nerve to secure hard-fought one-point victory against the Pumas in Bloemfontein on Friday.
This was by no means an exciting match. In all honestly, it made for horrible viewing; but Ruan Pienaar showed his class in the 57th minute when he darted over for a self-converted try which ultimately inspired the Cheetahs to a 17-16 victory.
Gameflow: In an action-deprived first-half, neither side had been able to convert their opportunities to points. That meant the first half flew by with no tries scored and only three penalties, two in favour of the Pumas who took a deserved 6-3 lead into the break.
With the exception of a few tries finally being scored, the second half wasn’t any better in terms of quality. The Pumas had been solid defensively, but their defence disintegrated after the interval, which went a long way in aiding the Cheetahs’ comeback.
Cheetahs wing Duncan Saal was instrumental in their revival, with his strong running down the flank resulting in several linebreaks, two of which led to their tries scored by Pienaar and debutant Lesley Botha.
Trailing by eight, the Pumas were handed a reprieve when they were awarded a penalty try to make it a one-point game, thus setting up a grandstand finish. But the visitors had one last opportunity to snatch a late win, the Cheetahs defence held firm and when the Pumas conceded possession, the ball was hacked into touch to conclude the match.