The Central Cheetahs pulled off an upset 28-12 win over the previously unbeaten Wellington Hurricanes in the Super 14 on Saturday.
It seemed an unlikely result when the Hurricanes, who had won their previous three matches, dominated possession and showed more flair on attack in the first half-hour, but while scrumhalf Piri Weepu missed three early kicks at goal, Cheetahs center Meyer Bosman and flyhalf Naas Olivier combined to land eight kicks out of eight during the match.
Bosman booted four long-range penalties, while Olivier succeeded with three penalties and a conversion from the touchline of his team’s only try, scored by Kabamba Floors.
The game swung decisively to the Cheetahs in the second half, with the Hurricanes showing the effects of playing at high altitude after a long flight from New Zealand.
Cheetahs captain Juan Smith said the win came after a difficult week in which his team were heavily criticized for a poor performance at the same venue against the Otago Highlanders.
“The Cheetahs are the most difficult team to play against,” Smith said. “One week we’re the most shocking team and another week we can beat anyone.”
The visitors were handicapped when two of their players — Ma’a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush — were sent to the sin-bin.
The Hurricanes paid for missed opportunities in the first half and trailed 12-5 at the interval. The New Zealanders scored the only try of the half, with left wing David Smith scoring his fourth try of the campaign after 10 minutes following a slick move from a lineout.
The Cheetahs took control in the second half, however, and stretched their lead to 20 points with 20 minutes to play.
Replacement loose forward Floors scored in the right corner eight minutes after halftime when he collected a chip ahead by wing Jongi Nokwe and held off two tackles to force his way over.
Reduced to 14 men when Thrush was handed a yellow card in the 66th minute, the Hurricanes mounted a brief rally, with fullback Cory Jane scoring with 10 minutes to go.
■STORMERS 33, OTAGO 0
AFP, CAPE TOWN
A dominant performance by the Western Stormers forwards enabled the home team to score a comfortable win over the Otago Highlanders in the Super 14 at Newlands on Saturday.
The Stormers scarcely got their hands on the ball in the opening exchanges as the New Zealand team made a strong start, but fullback Israel Dagg missed an early penalty attempt and after his Stormers’ counterpart Joe Pietersen landed a successful kick in the ninth minute, the Stormers took control on a hot afternoon.
Two of the Stormers’ four tries were the direct result of driving mauls by the forwards.
Stormers captain Schalk Burger, who scored one of the tries in his comeback match after injury, said it was a much-improved performance by his team after a disappointing home defeat to the Brumbies last weekend.
“We needed to turn it around and we did,” Burger said.
The Stormers kept the Highlanders under pressure with powerful driving and Andries Bekker was a towering presence in the lineouts, winning his own ball and stealing several Highlanders throw-ins. They scored only one try in the first half. Hooker Deon Fourie scored it in the 14th minute, but it took another 46 minutes for the Stormers to cross the line again.
A driving maul made more than 20m before Burger peeled away to score. Eight minutes later, Burger’s replacement, Pieter Louw, scored from another forward drive.