Chiefs wing James Lowe keeps Cheetahs centre Nico Lee at bay in Bloemfontein on Saturday. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp, BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Talk about throwing a match away!

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith doesn’t look like a man who loses his temper very often, but he would have been seething after his side gifted a 41-27 victory to the Chiefs in a round-eight Super Rugby match played in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The home team, coming off a bye weekend, did everything and more required of them in the early exchanges to be in complete control of the match after 21 minutes, but then went to sleep to allow the visitors from New Zealand to stroll to victory.

At the end, in the time the Chiefs fought back in scoring 41 points, the Cheetahs managed just three... a performance that will not go down well with fans of the home team.

An early penalty by Niel Marais was followed by converted tries by Raymond Rhule, Torsten van Jaarsveld and Francois Venter – all three men producing quality performances in the first half – to see the home team into a 24-0 lead.

The Cheetahs were dominant in all areas of the tie and looked to be well on their way to registering a rare win against the men from Waikato.

Sadly, Smith’s men would score only a further penalty, by Marais just after halftime, as the Chiefs ran rampant in the last hour.

Wing Toni Pulu got the ball rolling with a brace before halftime, scoring in the 29th and 40th minutes and then after the break, the visitors added a further four tries to their tally.

Not even a yellow card incurred by prop Kane Hames could stop them from running riot.

Scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow finished off after a great attacking play by his team in which centre Sam McNicol off-loaded beautifully in the tackle to set up the No 9, and he was followed shortly thereafter by wing James Lowe going over after an excellent passage of play by the visitors.

At 27-29 down and seven minutes remaining, the Cheetahs still had a chance, especially when replacement flyhalf Fred Zeilinga lined up a shot at goal, but his kick sailed wide.

And within a minute, the game was all but over for the hosts as replacement Chiefs wing Shaun Stevenson gathered an Aaron Cruden chip kick to score under the posts. He was soon followed to the tryline by replacement hooker Hika Elliot.

The Chiefs were good value for their victory; their second half showing no doubt pleasing coach Dave Rennie after last week’s narrow loss to the Stormers, while for Smith and his Cheetahs a few tough weeks lie ahead.

Not only do they have tons of work to do to be able to go the full 80 minutes, they are also facing the chop from Super Rugby.


Cheetahs 27 – Tries: Raymond Rhule, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Francois Venter. Conversions: Niel Marais (3). Penalties: Marais (2).

Chiefs 41 – Tries: Augustine Pulu (2), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, James Lowe, Shaun Stevenson, Hika Elliot. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (4).

Independent Media