The Chiefs scored 33 points in the second half to secure a 43-43 draw with the Cheetahs, reports JON CARDINELLI.
The Cheetahs only have themselves to blame. Like the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last week, they didn't respect the Chiefs' ability to hit back. Their defence was shocking in the second half, and while the scoreboard will reflect a draw, the Cheetahs will feel as if they lost.
The contest looked to be over by the 38th minute when the Cheetahs scored their fourth try and flyhalf Johan Goosen kicked his sixth goal of the afternoon. The Cheetahs had taken most of their opportunities in the first half, and were full value for their commanding 34-10 lead. They were well on course to a famous victory.
The Cheetahs' intent to play the game at pace was evident from the outset. They targeted the Chiefs around the fringes, and when an individual was tackled they sought to keep the movement alive by offloading to a team-mate.
This led to some breathtaking attacking surges. The Cheetahs' cause was aided by the sharp decision-making of Sarel Pretorius and Goosen. While both halfbacks were full of running, it was often their passing and vision that allowed the hosts to finish.
Willie le Roux was also in fine attacking form, contributing strongly as a runner and distributor. It was a loose, free-running contest that suited Le Roux's style of play, although there were moments in this match when the Springbok fullback showed his class as a tactical kicker.
However, the second half was a different story. The Cheetahs dropped their intensity and the Chiefs took full advantage. The visitors scored 26 points in the first 29 minutes of the second half, and against all expectations, they clawed their way back to within one score of victory.
Goosen managed to keep the hosts in front with some excellent goal-kicking under pressure. The penalty he nailed in the 71st minute edged the Cheetahs ahead by four, and a subsequent kick extended the hosts' advantage to seven. Ultimately, the Bok flyhalf finished the afternoon with a nine-from-11 record and 23 points.
The Chiefs launched one final attack after the full-time hooter, and got within inches of the tryline. They maintained their composure and it was Tim Nanai-Williams who eventually broke the Cheetahs line and scored under the uprights.
The Chiefs will return to New Zealand without a win, but have picked up some valuable log points in the matches against the Bulls and Cheetahs. Their performances in the second half of both games have served to confirm that they are capable of chasing a game.
Cheetahs – Tries: Sarel Pretorius (2), Ryno Benjamin, Boom Prinsloo. Conversions: Johan Goosen (4). Penalties: Goosen (5).
Chiefs – Tries: Augustine Pulu (2), Tim Nanai-Williams (2), Asaeli Tikoirotuma (2). Conversions: Aaron Cruden (5). Penalty: Cruden.
Cheetahs – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Hennie Daniller, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Chiefs – 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Tim Nanai-WIlliams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Michael Fitzgerald, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Subs: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Tanerau Latimer, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Mils Muliaina.
Photo: Charlie Lombard/Gallo Images
LEATHERMAN SA PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Sarel Pretorius was in top form as a runner and a distributor. Apart from scoring two tries of his own, he was a constant threat around the fringes of the ruck, and even more dangerous on the counter-attack. His great passing also allowed the Cheetahs' to maintain their attacking momentum.
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