Cheetahs scrape home

2013-03-16 00:00

THE Cheetahs continued their impressive run on tour as they scraped home 27-26 against the Waratahs thanks to two excellent tries by winger Raymond Rhule in their Super Rugby match in Sydney yesterday.

Rhule’s brace helped the Cheetahs score their second win on the tour and their third consecutive over the Waratahs in as many years, as the Bloemfontein team started and finished well to leave the Waratahs truly in tatters in round five of the tournament.

It was the winger’s try in the 70th minute of the game that sealed the victory for the Cheetahs and turned the game around, as the Waratahs looked as if they were cruising to a victory after taking the lead at the break.

Two of the team’s three tries came after the Waratahs were caught from deft chips by Willie Le Roux, leaving the Waratahs’ defence in tatters.

The telling blow, as Le Roux chipped to put the team on the front foot, came from the recycle when Rhule ran a beautiful line off the scrumhalf to leave the defence flatfooted and go over untouched.

But it was almost not to be as the Cheetahs had scored two excellent tries earlier to take the lead, but then watched as the Waratahs made inroads and tested their shaky defence, taking the lead before half-time.

A minute into the game Le Roux launched his first chip, collecting and spinning the ball to Robert Ebersohn on the outside in one quick movement, leaving the midfielder to run 50 metres untouched and shock the 12 000 crowd.

The Waratahs pulled back with two penalties from Brendan McKibbon, but were once again rattled as the Cheetahs surged forward and the ball was looped out wide to Rhule, who danced his way inside before slamming the ball over the line, despite a good tackle by Adam Ashley-Cooper.

The Cheetahs took their foot off the pedal a bit and their defence showed cracks as the Waratahs gained more confidence, with Peter Betham going close after beating several defenders before he broke Heinrich Brussow’s tackle to run in under the posts.

With the half-time whistle waiting, it was Ashley-Cooper who scored, and although he turned and placed the ball immediately when tackled by Trevor Nyakane, there was some doubt after Paddy Ryan ran an obstructing line into Nyakane before the tackle was executed. Television referee George Ayoub ruled differently though and gave the home side the confirmation of a 20-17 half-time lead.

At the start of the second half, the Waratahs had several chances to extend their lead, but some stern defence, coupled with some poor handling errors cost them, allowing Johan Goosen to get the Cheetahs level with his boot.

McKibbon added another penalty to sneak the Waratahs into the lead and it seemed destined that they would hold out, only for Le Roux and Rhule to come up with a bit of magic that turned the game.

The Waratahs tried their best, but other than a penalty to bring them within a point, the writing was on the wall.

Their solitary win in the competition is all they have after four games, and things are not looking good for coach Michael Cheika.

The Cheetahs march on confidently, looking for a third win next week against the Force in Perth.

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