NEWPORT, Wales – The Cheetahs collected their second win of the season away from home as they beat the Newport Gwent Dragons 29-17 in a PRO14 match at Rodney Parade on Friday evening.
The highlight of the first half was a super attacking move by the Dragons in the 13th minute, which saw Ashton Hewitt receiving a flick pass from Hallam Amos to open the scoring.
Cheetahs centre Niel Marais reduced the deficit via a penalty before opposing flyhalf Arwel Robson restored the lead to seven points through an opportunistic drop goal in the 27th minute to make the score 10-3 at halftime.
The visitors stunned the Dragons in the first minute after the break as they took advantage of a Dragons clearance kick that failed to find touch.
Cheetahs fullback Clayton Blommetjies carved his way through the centre of the field, evading several tacklers before feeding the ball to wing Sibahle Maxwane to score near the posts.
Marais had no problem with the conversion to level the score at 10-10.
STRAIGHT from kick-off! 😲 🏉⬇️
🐆 @CheetahsRugby level things up vs 🐲 @dragonsrugby through @Sibahle_maxwane after @CBlommetjies works open the space.
📺 Watch live on @BBCSportWales or @SuperSportTV.#DRAvCHE #GUINNESSPRO14 pic.twitter.com/H52DDjPhmB
This was the start of a purple patch for the men from Bloemfontein, with first flyhalf Fred Zeilinga crashing over for a converted try in the 48th minute, and then Maxwane taking advantage of a poor chip effort by the Dragons to boot ahead and score his second of the night in the 61st minute.
The try his play deserved 🙌@CBlommetjies finds yet another gap and goes for it himself to make sure of 🐆 @CheetahsRugby's lead.
📺 Catch the final minutes on @BBCSportWales or @SuperSportTV.#DRAvCHE #GUINNESSPRO14 pic.twitter.com/RD4QGELmJV
The Dragons showed true character in front of their home fans and were rewarded with a try when hooker Elliot Dee breached the Cheetahs defence with nine minutes left on the clock.
Robson added the conversion to make the score 22-17.
The Cheetahs responded almost immediately with some good forward play from a lineout, with Blommetjies showing some fancy footwork to slip through the centre of the Dragons’ defence to score under the posts, making for an easy conversion for Marais.
The match nearly got off to a dream start for Dragons scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, who touched down for a try against his old teammates, but referee Nigel Owens referred the action to the TMO before disallowing the five-pointer due to an infringement.
The disappointment could be seen on the face of Pretorius, who announced two days earlier that he would be leaving the Dragons at the end of the season, having signed a two-year deal to play for their PRO14 rivals Southern Kings.
The Cheetahs will head home to prepare for their next outing in their competition against the Cardiff Blues on April 7, while on the same day, the Dragons will be away to Treviso.
Dragons 17 – Tries: Ashton Hewitt, Elliot Dee. Conversions: Arwel Robson (2). Drop goal: Robson (1).
Cheetahs 29 – Tries: Sibahle Maxwane (2), Clayton Blommetjies, Fred Zeilinga. Conversions: Niel Marais (3). Penalty: Marais (1).
African News Agency (ANA)