Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Highlanders scratch out 24-21 win over Cheetahs

Reuters, DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND

Adam Thomson and Colin Slade boosted their All Blacks chances by propelling the Otago Highlanders to a tight 24-21 victory over South Africa’s Cheetahs at Carisbrook yesterday.

Flanker Thomson scored two tries and was prominent again in the loose, while flyhalf Slade sparked his attacking backline with incisive running and contributed nine points with his boot in a match the Highlanders should have run away with given their possession and number of line breaks.

The Cheetahs, who spent most of the match chasing the Highlanders, rued two missed penalties by Sias Ebersohn in the second half as they took what opportunities they did have to score three converted tries to WP Nel, Robert Ebersohn and winger Phillip Burger.

“At times there I thought we played some of the best rugby of the year there,” Highlanders captain Jamie Mackintosh said in a televised interview. “We were trying to be positive ... but we probably put ourselves under too much pressure by turning over too much ball.”

The Highlanders dominated the first half playing into a chilly, swirling wind by keeping the ball alive in an effort to run the Cheetahs off their feet.

The tactic worked as they scored two superb converted tries to Thomson and center Kendrick Lynn, while Slade added a penalty.

The Cheetahs, however, finally adopted a similar approach with tighthead prop Nel flopping over for a try that flyhalf Sias Ebersohn converted.

They then also capitalized on a turnover with a try to center Robert Ebersohn, which his twin brother, Sias, converted to narrow the score to 17-14 at halftime.

Thomson scored his second try of the game just after the break.

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