The Cheetahs closed out a good day for South African sides with a 27-21 win over the Brumbies in Bloem, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
Having found themselves on the wrong side of meetings with their Australasian counterparts all too often this season, it was a day that the South African Super Rugby teams stood up and were counted.
The Brumbies arrived on a high after seeing off the table-topping Sharks in Canberra last week, but were met by a spirited Cheetahs team that defied their low log position.
The visitors had the ball over the whitewash as early as the fifth minute, but it was rightfully ruled out by the TMO for obstruction.
It was a rare foray into the Cheetahs 22, as the hosts enjoyed much of the play early on. The Cheetahs capitalised on their territorial advantage by forcing the Brumbies into giving away kickable penalties. Johan Goosen duly obliged, claiming three penalties as the Cheetahs opened up a nine-point lead after 16 minutes.
The Brumbies, who were guilty of missing a number of shots at goal in the first half, finally got on the board in the 20th minute through a Nic White penalty.
White played a key role in the Brumbies' first try, probing the blindside before putting through a perfectly weighted kick for Robbie Coleman to run on to and go over in the corner. He failed to convert, but a penalty after the hooter sent the Brumbies down the tunnel 11-9 to the good.
The game turned in four second-half minutes, though, with first Willie le Roux and then Goosen going over. The first was a wonderfully worked set-piece move. Heinrich Brüssow broke off the back of a lineout maul before offloading to Shaun Venter, who floated a lovely pass to Le Roux to go over in the corner.
White and Goosen then traded penalties before a Stephen Moore try from a driving maul set up a grandstand finish. The Cheetahs were left to play out the final 10 minutes with 14-men after Brüssow saw yellow for kicking the ball away. It was Goosen, though, who had the last say with a mammoth 55m drop goal, as the Cheetahs claimed their first win over Australasian opposition this season.
Cheetahs – Tries: Willie le Roux, Johan Goosen. Conversions: Goosen. Penalties: Goosen (4), Drop goal: Goosen.
Brumbies – Tries: Robbie Coleman, Stephen Moore. Conversion: Nic White. Penalties: White (3).
Cheetahs – 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Johannes Prinsloo, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Carel Greeff, 20 Waltie Vermeulen, 21 Renier Botha, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Riaan Smit.
Brumbies – 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Fotu Auelua, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Tom McVerry, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Pat McCabe.
LEATHERMAN SA PLAYER OF THE MATCH
While Boom Prinsloo had another stellar outing, it was Goosen's accuracy with the boot that got the Cheetahs across the line here and gave Heyneke Meyer a timely reminder of his credentials as a potential Bok flyhalf.
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Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images