In a PRO14 match filled with action, some exquisite handling and some tough forward action, eleven tries were scored in the good derby match between the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Kings, who had slightly the better of the territorial and possession battles, came back at the end too late to salvage a win or even a try bonus-point as the Cheetahs moved closer to play-off contention with their 40-36 win. The Kings fightback came with only 14 men, as their flanker CJ velleman was redcarded i the 68th minute.
The Cheetahs scored six tries and the Kings five in a match of lively rugby. It was the Cheetahs' fourth consecutive win.
Still in sixth position, the Cheetahs are now tied with the Cardiff Blues with 36 points on the Conference A table but one position below them because of points difference. But they are creeping closer and are only two league points behind only two behind Ospreys and Connacht who are in third and fourth positions respectively in Conference A.
The Kings again had their problems at scrum time, were less polished than the Cheetahs with ball in hand and conceded 16 penalties to the home side’s eight – just about par for them in their campaign.
In one of his best matches yet in this competition, Cheetahs flyhalf Tian Schoeman dictated play with some clever kicking. His main contribution was however probably the way in which he attacked himself, got his backline on the front foot with good options and distribution and also didn’t hesitate to make contact with the big opposing forwards when needed.
The Kings? One had to feel for them. They lacked the polish of the winners, though, with the message reinforced that sheer guts and perseverance is not enough at this level.
It was their fifth defeat in five PRO14 matches against the Cheetahs, and also a continuance of their heartbreak defeats as they left their challenge too late to come back from 15-40 They thereby lost their fifth league match out of the last six by seven points or less.
Cheetahs (19) 40: Tries: Shaun Venter, Tian Schoeman, William Small-Smith, Malcolm Jaer, Junior Pokomela, Luan de Bruin. Conversions: Schoeman (5).
Kings (10) 36: Tries: CJ Velleman, Yaw Penxe, Tienie Burger, Alandré van Rooyen, Berton Klaasen. Conversions: Masixole Banda (4). Penalty: Banda.