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Heartbreak for Tahs as Cheetahs run down deficit in second-half

Date

Cheetahs 35 Waratahs 34

Riaan Smit of the Cheetahs looks for support as Drew Mitchell and Rob Horne close in.

Riaan Smit of the Cheetahs looks for support as Drew Mitchell and Rob Horne close in. Photo: Getty Images

The Cheetahs held on during a tense finish to pip the Waratahs 35-34 on Saturday in a nine-try Super 15 match.

MATCH STATS

The bonus-point victory for the South Africans was particularly sweet as they have lost out in several close endings to southern hemisphere provincial championship games this season.

In space ... Berrick Barnes.

In space ... Berrick Barnes. Photo: Getty Images

Waratahs will be upset at a second narrow loss on tour, especially as they scored two tries within seven minutes of the kick-off to open a 14-point lead and were 34-21 ahead in the second half.

A feature of a lively encounter was the excellent place kicking with neither Cheetahs fly-half Riaan Smit (four attempts) nor Waratahs scrum-half Brendan McKibbin (six) missing a shot at goal.

Traditional masters of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, Cheetahs halted a run of four losses in five matches as the strength of tight-head prop WP Nel and speed of left wing Willie le Roux delivered second-half tries.

Sarel Pretorius of the Waratahs playing against his former team.

Sarel Pretorius of the Waratahs playing against his former team. Photo: Getty Images

Smit and his replacement, Sias Ebersohn, converted the scores to give the home team a one-point lead they successfully defended for 22 minutes until the final whistle sounded.

"It was great to win after a disappointing first-half showing. We did some tough talking at half-time and it paid off," said Cheetahs hooker and skipper Adriaan Strauss.

Waratahs' loose-head prop and stand-in captain Benn Robinson replied: "It was a very unhappy outcome for us after scoring those early tries. We have a lot of areas to work on."

Sitaleki Timani of the Waratahs wins a line-out.

Sitaleki Timani of the Waratahs wins a line-out. Photo: Getty Images

A relief for the Australians was that Wallaby wing Drew Mitchell came through his first appearance for the team in more than a year unscathed after lengthy ankle and hamstring injury lay-offs.

The try fest began after four minutes with flanker Dave Dennis punishing sloppy defending to dot down and lock Sitaleki Timani went over two minutes later before a small, vocal crowd in the central city.

Smit converted tries from scrum-half Piet van Zyl and Le Roux to restore equality before McKibbin kicked a penalty and Strauss intercepted a blindside pass and raced over for a converted try and a 21-17 advantage to his side.

Waratahs regained the initiative in the latter stages of the opening half with outside centre Rob Horne and Timani, again, going over to leave the visitors 31-21 in front by the break.

McKibbin stretched the lead with his second penalty, but they proved the final points for the Sydney side as Cheetahs crossed the tryline twice within four minutes for a second consecutive victory over the Waratahs.

CHEETAHS 35 (Willie Le Roux 2, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss, Piet van Zyl tries Riaan Smit 4, Sias Ebersohn cons) bt NSW WARATAHS 34 (Sitaleki Timani 2, Dave Dennis, Rob Horne tries Brendan McKibbin 4 cons 2 pens) at Vodacom Park. Referee: Craig Joubert.

AFP

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs RSA 01:00Stadio Plebiscito
SCO vs TGA 01:30Rugby Park
IRE vs AUS 03:30Lansdowne Road
WAL vs NZL 04:30MilS
ENG vs SAM 06:00Twic
FRA vs ARG 07:00StdF
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
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