The Waratahs smashed the Cheetahs 58-33 to keep themselves in the hunt for a home semi-final. RYAN VREDE reports.
Neither of these sides were ever going to go down a pragmatic route tactically, but even with a wealth of tries in this fixture it was painful viewing.
The Cheetahs came into this contest with a dreadful defensive record, missing an average of 21 tackles per match. And again their shortcomings were on full show.
One can accept if a side breaks their opponents down through purposeful and clinical build-up play. But you simply cannot tolerate a professional outfit like the Cheetahs surrendering their line with the ease they did on Saturday afternoon.
The Tahs bagged their four-try bonus point by half-time, Israel Folau scoring twice to go with tries from Michael Hooper and Matt Cararro.
But the defending champions weren’t much better defensively, leaking three tries, allowing the Cheetahs to stay in touch at half-time, the hosts trailing 29-21 going down the tunnel.
Adam Ashley-Cooper compounded the Cheetahs’ woes soon after the restart. However, in the try-fest none of the five-pointers trumped the Cheetahs’ rebuttal through Cornal Hendricks. The Bok winger rounded off a move that was birthed in their 22m and featured hot-stepping in midfield and excellent support runs.
The Cheetahs converted to set up an interesting final quarter, but Folau’s third of the afternoon sealed the result for the Tahs with 15 minutes to play.
The Tahs struck twice thereafter to take their points tally past 50, while Francois Venter crossed late for the Cheetahs.
Cheetahs – Tries: Francois Venter (2), Cornal Hendricks (2), Boom Prinsloo. Conversions: Coenie van Wyk (3), Niel Marais.
Waratahs – Tries: Israel Folau (3), Matt Carraro (2), Michael Hooper, Taqele Naiyarovoro, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Bernard Foley. Conversions: Foley (5). Penalty: Foley.
Cheetahs – 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Cornal Hendricks, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 BG Uys.
Subs: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Seven Sykes, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Shaun Venter, 23 Willie Le Roux.
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Matt Carraro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Dave Dennis, 4 Mitchell Chapman, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Hugh Roach, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 David Porecki, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Peter Betham.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images