Cheetahs beat Sharks in Toyota Challenge clash in Bloemfontein
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Durban – The Sharks certainly got warmed up in Bloemfontein ahead of this week’s resumption of the United Rugby Championship but it was the Cheetahs on the right side of the 40-34 result after a blistering game of rugby.
The Sharks had accepted an invitation to play in the Toyota Challenge as part of their build-up to playing the Scarlets at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday, and while they will be pleased with their attacking play — they scored five fine tries — they will be unhappy with their set-piece play, especially the lineouts, while the defence leaked four tries.
The Cheetahs are without a competition and wanted to prove a point against an URC team, and they certainly did that. They have also uncovered an exciting talent in the former Kings flyhalf Siya Masuku, who controlled the game well and was successful with all eight of his kicks at goal.
The Sharks’ first try was beautifully created by Ruan Pienaar, who was playing against the Cheetahs because he is on loan to the Sharks for the URC. He went blind from a scrum and grubbered cleverly for Anthony Volmink to gather, and he fed it back to Pienaar for the try.
The Sharks’ second try was also a beauty and again came from a kick through the defence, this time Boeta Chamberlain chipping for Marnus Potgieter, with the outside centre finishing strongly.
The Sharks had a 13-0 lead but the Cheetahs responded with a penalty by flyhalf Siya Masuku and then wing Enver Brandt finished off a passage of neat inter-passing between the Cheetahs players.
Masuku then levelled the score at 13-13 and as the halftime whistle approached, Brandt scorched down the wing for his second try and the Cheetahs had the lead for the first time.
The home side kept the foot on the accelerator with a sensational team try — finished by centre David Brits — just two minutes into the second half, and suddenly the Sharks were in trouble at 27-13.
Cheetahs prop Conrad van Vuuren was yellow carded for deliberate offside ten minutes into the half and the Sharks cashed in at a set scrum and substitute prop Dian Bleuler — a new recruit from Western Province — scored.
As the game hit the three-quarter mark, Aphelele Fassi made his first appearance for what seems like ages after an unproductive period with the Springboks and not long after the Sharks scored a lovely try by Volmink after a brilliant team build-up from deep in the Sharks’ half.
That levelled the score but with 15 minutes to go Masuku edged his team into the lead with his third penalty, and then Brits nailed his second after an extraordinary build that contained three intercepts.
Sharks – 34: Tries: Ruan Pienaar, Marnus Potgieter, Dian Bleuler, Anthony Volmink, Jeremy Ward. Penalties: Boeta Chamberlain. Conversions: Chamberlain (3)
Cheetahs – 40: Tries: Enver Brandt (2), David Brits (2). Penalties: Siya Masuku (4). Conversions: Masuku (4).