BLOEMFONTEIN – The Cheetahs suffered their sixth defeat in this season’s Pro14 rugby competition when they were narrowly beaten 30-26 by Munster at the Toyota Stadium on Sunday.
The home side had enough opportunities to put points on the board in the first half, but handling errors, good defending by the visitors and sloppy play kept the Cheetahs on the back foot.
Munster took the lead in the 10th minute when flyhalf Bill Johnson slotted over a penalty (3-0). Leftwing Rabz Maxwane had two outstanding chances to score tries for Franco Smith’s team, but he wasted both opportunities.
The Irish team increased their lead in the 15th minute after South African eighthman Arno Botha barged over. Johnston missed the conversion (8-0).
The Cheetahs continued piling on the pressure, with flanker Junior Pokomela in the thick of things. Munster, however, stood firm and repelled the home side’s attacks with great success.
The Cheetahs got the upperhand in the 26th minute after Munster flanker Chris Cloete was yellow-carded. The home side scored their first points after Joseph Dweba forced his way over after a rolling maul. Tian Schoeman missed the conversion (8-5).
There was a long break just before halftime when rightwing William Small-Smith and Schoeman collided and first-mentioned had to get treatment on the field. He left on the stretcher and was replaced by Tian Meyer. After the restart hooker Kevin O’Byrne scored and Johnston converted to make the halftime score 15-5.
In the second half Liam Coombes rounded off a good move for the visitors to increase their lead. Johnston converted (22-5). The Cheetahs were not prepared to lie down and hit back when prop Ox Nche forced his way over after a line out. Schoeman converted (22-12). The Cheetahs smelt blood and in the 57th minute Dweba scored his second try of the match. Schoeman did the rest (22-19).
The home side took the lead seven minutes later when fullback Rhyno Smith sprinted through for a try and Schoeman converted (26-22). Munster retook the lead in the 66th minute when fullback Mike Haley broke through to score. Ian Keatley missed the kick (27-26). Replacement-kicker Rory Scannell succeeded with a penalty to increase Munster’s lead (30-26).
Cheetahs 26 (5)
Tries: Joseph Dweba (2), Ox Nche, Rhyno Smith. Conversion: Tian Schoeman (3)
Munster 30 (15)
Tries: Arno Botha, Kevin O’Byrne, Liam Coombes, Mike Haley. Conversion: Bill Johnson (2). Penalties: Johnston, Rory Scannell.
African News Agency (ANA)