The Cheetahs snapped a nine-match losing streak as they clinched an emphatic 47-7 win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
At long last, the Cheetahs found a way to stop the rot, with an improved defensive display ultimately paving the way for the Free State side to clinch a much-needed win.
The scoreline might be somewhat flattering for the Cheetahs, but they did well to deprive the Sunwolves of possession from the get-go, while recording five second-half tries to ensure they would avoid the ignominy of suffering a 10th successive loss.
The Cheetahs enjoyed as much as 80% of possession in the opening quarter, but their attack was often more frenetic than accurate, with a number of ill-judged offloads failing to go to hand.
They eventually received reward for their general dominance when flanker Uzair Cassiem barged over to score just before the quarter-hour mark, but it appeared as if that might be all the Cheetahs would have to show for their efforts in the first half as the Sunwolves continued to scramble well on defence.
In the opening half alone, the Cheetahs made a whopping 365m to 90, while completing 87 carries to 38, but some of their inaccuracy with ball in hand was reflected in the fact that they conceded as many as 12 turnovers.
Nevertheless, the visitors took complete control when Niell Jordaan and Niel Marais scored right before and after the break to suddenly send the Cheetahs into a commanding 19-point lead.
The Cheetahs’ much-maligned defence did look much improved in Tokyo, but the Sunwolves finally found a way through when big lock Sam Wykes barged over a would-be-tackler to score under the posts in the 47th minute.
From there the contest briefly degenerated into a scrappy affair, but the result was eventually wrapped up when Cassiem secured his brace, before Torsten van Jaarsveld also dotted down with less than 10 minutes to play.
Late tries to replacement Tian Meyer and Sergeal Petersen then ensured the scoreline would look rather lopsided as the Cheetahs took their overall try tally to seven, while forward replacement Francois Uys memorably slotted the touchline conversion.
Sunwolves – Try: Sam Wykes. Conversion: Yu Tamura.
Cheetahs – Tries: Uzair Cassiem (2). Niell Jordaan, Niel Marais, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Tian Meyer, Sergeal Petersen. Conversions: Marais (5), Francois Uys.
Sunwolves – 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Shota Emi, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Kotaro Yatabe, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Subs: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Yasuo Yamaji, 19 Hitoshi Ono, 20 Shokei Kin, 21 Keisuke Uchida, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 William Tupou.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Junior Pokomela, 23 Fred Zeilinga.
Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images