Johannesburg – The Cheetahs snatched a victory in the dying seconds of their Super Rugby warm-up encounter against the Stormers on Saturday, beating the visitors 27-26 in the Free State stadium in Bloemfontein.
Replacement back Hansie Graaff kicked a 55-metre penalty after the hooter sounded to give the Cheetahs a much needed victory in the warm up to their Super Rugby campaign. The Stormers will feel devastated after they were in control for much of the game.
The visitors made all the hard yards in the first half and made the most of their possession, scoring 11 unanswered points via the kicking boot of fly half Kurt Coleman and a try by flanker Nizaam Carr.
The Cheetas struggled in the line outs, especially trying to counter the Stormers on the rolling maul. It was from such a facet of play that Carr scored the visitor's first try. The hosts simply could not counter the Stormers and Carr burst over in the corner in the 30th minute.
The Cheetahs started the second half at a better pace, bolstered by the introduction of replacements Frans Viljoen and Springbok flanker Juan Smith. Fly half Riaan Smit helped settle the nerves with a penalty, but his side kept on infringing and playing offsides.
Their defensive pattern was unimpressive, with the likes of Springbok centre Juan de Jongh and eighth man Duanne Vermeulen finding numerous holes in the midfield.
The Stormers looked the part in the scrums, and from five metres out, Carr scored his second try of the afternoon.
The Cheetahs awoke from their winter sleep and Sarel Pretorius dove over in the corner after flanker Francois Uys caught the Stormers defenders napping around the blind side. Replacement fly half Elgar Watts converted. That inspired the hosts to more attacking phases, the rolling maul this time the Stormers' undoing. Replacement flanker Frans Viljoen grunted over after his tight five did all the hard work. Watts converted to put his side in the lead for the first time in the game.
The Stormers regained the lead when Coleman kicked a penalty in the 66th minute and stretched it even further to nine points after centre Damian de Allende followed up a clever little chip kick by Coleman. The latter converted.
The Cheetahs sneaked in for a final try after Stormers winger Bryan Habana was sin binned for kneeing a player in the face. Cheetahs winger Rocco Jansen went over in the corner after the hosts made use of the overlap. Watts converted to leave his side trailing by a mere two points. Graaff got an opportunity after the final whistle to give his side the victory, and he kicked the penalty with ease.
Cheetahs Tries: Sarel Pretorius, Frans Viljoen, Rocco Jansen.
Conversions: Elgar Watts (3).
Penalties: Riaan Smit, Hansie Graaff.
Stormers Tries: Nizaam Carr (2), Damian de Allende Conversions:
Penalties: Kurt Coleman (3). – Sapa