CARDIFF – The Cheetahs surrendered their advantage late on as Cardiff Blues came from behind to win 24-21 in a tense PRO14 clash at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday night.
Neither side managed to set a solid platform as mistakes marred the opening exchanges in what proved to be a scrappy affair played in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
The home fans made their frustrations heard when the TMO confirmed Walt Steenkamp’s try from a rolling maul in the 19th minute, despite what appeared to be a handling error in the build-up.
That try sparked the home side into action, and they were level when Gareth Anscombe’s clever kick in behind was fumbled by Cheetahs fullback Ryno Eksteen.
The mistake allowed Rey Lee-Lo to collect and dot down and once again, the TMO allowed the try despite speculation that Lee-Lo had lost control before gathering.
Anscombe sent his side his side into the break ahead through a late penalty to set up an intriguing second period.
Cheetahs wing Sibahle Maxwane sent his side in front in the 49th minute as the TMO confirmed another controversial decision, before Barend Janse van Rensburg helped put some daylight between the Cheetahs and their hosts 10 minutes later to take the score to 21-10 in favour of the visitors.
But the Blues stayed patient, and were rewarded when Lloyd Williams broke through to reduce the deficit, with Anscombe’s reliable boot bringing the margin down to just four points.
The match continued to be marred by discipline and handling errors, and it was Cardiff flank Olly Robinson who scored the game’s defining try in the 70th minute as the hosts moved ahead once again.
The Cheetahs had nothing left in the tank as they battled for any meaningful possession or territory, as the hosts ground out the win before coming up short in their own quest for a bonus point.
Cardiff Blues 24 – Tries: Rey Lee-Lo, Lloyd Williams, Olly Robinson. Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (3). Penalty: Anscombe (1).
Cheetahs 21 – Tries: Walt Steenkamp, Sibahle Maxwane, Barend Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3).
African News Agency (ANA)