Springbok flank Uzair Cassiem scored a brace for the Cheetahs. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp, BackpagePix

TOKYO – There was some Super Rugby respite for the Cheetahs after this most challenging of seasons for them when they scored seven brilliant tries to thrash the Sunwolves 47-7 in the Japanese capital on Saturday.

As is customary for the Cheetahs this season, they started like a house on fire, but this time the tries did not initially come as the Sunwolves defended ferociously in front of their home crowd.

The first 15 minutes of the game was spent in the Sunwolves’ danger zone, with no scoring. It was only in the 17th minute when the defence cracked, with flank Uzair Cassiem showing great determination to force his way over from close quarters.

The Cheetahs would have to wait until the last second of the half to score again when replacement lock Niel Jordaan dived over at the corner flag as the hooter sounded. Flyhalf Niel Marais converted from the touchline.

An indication of the Cheetahs’ domination of territory and possession is that it took 30 minutes before the home side had an attacking play in the opposition half.

Having scored at the very death of the first half, the Cheetahs promptly scored in the first seconds after the break, a lovely team try finished by flyhalf Marais.

It was 19-0, but the Sunwolves refused to capitulate and immediately struck back when an attacking build-up created the space for lock Sam Wykes to barge over between the posts, the conversion coming from Yu Tamura.

The try marked a clear momentum shift in the game and suddenly it was the Cheetahs doing most of the defending, and only some frantic scrambling in the in-goal area prevented two tries as the game neared the three-quarter mark, with the Sunwolves using the grubber to good effect.

But the Cheetahs rallied by tightening up the game, using their strength upfront. They turned on the power in the set scrums and used the driving maul to great effect, and the Sunwolves were forced back on to the defence.

The Cheetahs then opened up the taps on attack and superb interplay between forwards and backs created a clear run to the line for Cassiem to score his second try.

Marais’ conversion gave the visitors an imposing 26-7 lead with just 11 minutes to go, and two minutes later, the match-clincher came when hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld smashed over on the back of a series of forward surges towards the line.

The visitors finished in style with a brilliant count-attacking try from their 22, which saw most of the team handle for Tian Meyer to score under the crossbar, before Sergeal Petersen raced down the touch-line for the final try.

Points-Scorers

Sunwolves 7 – Try: Sam Wykes. Conversion: Yu Tamura (1).

Cheetahs 47 – Tries: Uzair Cassiem (2), Niel Jordaan, Niel Marais, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Tian Meyer, Sergeal Petersen. Conversions: Niel Marais (5), Francois Uys (1).

African News Agency (ANA)

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