Cheetahs send Sharks a confident Highlanders

2012-04-30 00:00

THE Cheetahs played the perfect Super Rugby hosts, gifting the Highlanders a remarkable 36-33 win in Bloemfontein on Saturday, but the Stormers, made of sterner stuff, continued on their merry way with a satisfying away win over the Force in Perth.

The Cheetahs, involved and busy, led by 21 points with the final quarter approaching, but the loss of the 19-year-old Johan Goosen to a shoulder injury as he scored his team’s third try proved the turning point.

The Cheetahs, who led 30-9 after Goosen’s try, then lost their shape and started falling off tackles as the Highlanders, running at them from all angles, quickly scored three tries to level the scores at 33-33.

Still, the Cheetahs should have won the game three minutes from time when replacement flyhalf Sias Ebersohn missed a kick from slap-bang in front and 25 metres out and the Highlanders’ Chris Noakes rubbed salt in the wound by booting a far more difficult penalty a minute later for the three-point win.

All Blacks scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan scored two tries as a replacement for the Highlanders, who now travel to Durban to face the Sharks on Saturday with their confidence high. They could, however, be without England Test forward James Haskell, who has been cited for a blatant punch.

“I’ve got to feel for the Cheetahs because they put everything into that performance and we were lucky to get away with it, but at the same time I’m rapt we got a win,” Highlanders captain Jamie Mackintosh said.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské would not have been as sympathetic.

The injury-hit Stormers, again relying on their excellent defence, outplayed the Force 17-3 in the rain in Perth to end a productive tour with three wins from four and 13 log points. They are in marvellous shape, heading the South African conference, their tour behind them and having a bye this weekend followed by four home games.

A typical Bryan Habana intercept from 65 metres — though he could have lost the ball in dotting down — and another try by flyhalf Peter Grant settled the contest.

The Chiefs made light of their long haul back from South Africa and stayed top of the log with a 33-14 win over the Hurricanes.

They stay top of the log on 39 points, two clear of the Stormers and Bulls.

The Crusaders continued their strong revival with a 37-33 win over the Waratahs in Sydney yesterday. The Crusaders were better than the scoreline suggests with only a late try by the home team bringing them within touching distance.

The Lions set out on their tour down under on the back of another loss, this time to the Brumbies at Ellis Park, and they will travel without the suspended Butch James. Coach John Mitchell blamed the Lions’ poor tackling for the loss.

“It was our worst defensive performance of the season,” he said.

The title-holding Reds beat the Blues 23-11 in Auckland on Friday and then heard a day later that their Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia would be joining the Force next season.

Yesterday’s scores and scorers (home team first):

Waratahs 33 (13) – Tries: Atieli Pakalani, Wycliff Palu, Sarel Pretorius. Conversions: Brendan McKibbin (2), Berrick Barnes. Penalties: McKibbin (4). Crusaders 37 (14) — Tries: Robbie Fruean (2), Zac Guilford, Adam Whitelock: Conversions: Tom Taylor (4). Penalties: Taylor (3).

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Cheetahs 33 (23) – Tries: Coenie Oosthuizen. Andries Ferreira, Johan Goosen. Conversions: Goosen (2), Sias Ebersohn. Penalties: Goosen (2), Ebersohn.

Highlanders 36 (9) - Tries: Chris Noakes, Jimmy Cowan (2). Conversions: Noakes (3). Penalties: Mike Delany (3), Noakes (2). Force 3 (3) — Penalty: David Harvey. Stormers 17 (7) – Tries: Bryan Habana, Peter Grant. Conversions: Grant (2). Penalties: Grant.

Chiefs 33 (12) – Tries: Lelia Masaga, Sona Taumalolo, Toby Smith. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (3). Penalties: Cruden (4). Hurricanes 14 (8) – Tries: Andre Taylor. Penalties: Beauden Barrett (3).

Friday’s results:

Blues 11 Reds 23

Lions 20 Brumbies 34.

Weekend byes: Sharks, Bulls and Rebels.

This weekend’s fixtures

(home team first, SA times):

Friday:

Hurricanes vs Blues, 9.35 am

Rebels vs Bulls, 11.40 am

Saturday:

Chiefs vs Lions, 9.35 am

Brumbies vs Waraths, 11.40 am

Sharks vs Highlanders, 5.05 pm.

Cheetahs vs Force, 7.10 pm

Sunday:

Crusaders vs Reds, 5.00 am.

Bye: Stormers

LOG:

P W D L PD BPts Pts

Chiefs 9 8 0 1 79 3 39

Stormers 9 8 0 1 66 1 37

Brumbies 9 5 0 4 36 7 31

Bulls 8 6 0 2 99 5 37

H'ders 9 7 0 2 25 2 34

Saders 9 6 0 3 47 5 33

Sharks 9 4 0 5 -16 7 27

Waratahs 9 4 0 5 7 6 26

Reds 9 5 0 4 -51 1 25

Canes 9 4 0 5 -17 5 25

Cheetahs 9 3 0 6 -14 6 22

Rebels 8 2 0 6 -87 2 18

Force 9 2 0 7 -45 5 17

Lions 8 1 0 7 -76 2 14

Blues 9 1 0 8 -53 4 12

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