Johan Goosen kicked the Central Cheetahs to an historic first victory over the Otago Highlanders in their Super 15 clash yesterday in Invercargill, New Zealand.
There were three tries each, including a hat-trick for Highlanders’ wing Kade Poki, but the telling difference on the board were the 21 points from Goosen who never missed a shot at goal in his team’s 36-19 win.
It was the first time in seven attempts the Cheetahs had beaten the Highlanders and they did so against an Otago side brimming with All Blacks talent.
Their seven internationals included captain Andrew Hore, returning after serving a five-match ban for striking Bradley Davies in New Zealand’s 33-10 win over Wales last year.
However, it was no happy return for the hooker, as the Cheetahs, directed by scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, staggered Otago with a relentless attacking game while their flat defense smothered the Highlanders’ attempts to run the ball.
The Cheetahs took every opportunity gifted to them by the error-riddled Highlanders in the first half as they chalked up a huge 30-7 lead at the turn.
Goosen, who struggled with his goal-kicking in the first two rounds, had his radar firmly locked on target as he landed three penalties and converted all three tries.
Pretorius was first to cross the line, put in the clear by Pieter Labuschagne who easily fended off a Joe Wheeler tackle.
Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga then gave away 14 points in the form of two converted runaway tries.
An attempted chip kick went straight to Robert Ebersohn who ran 60m to score and minutes later Pretorius intercepted a floating pass to race 70m to the line.
Sopoaga, who did set up Poki for the Highlanders first-half try, was substituted just before halftime by former All Black Colin Slade making a return to rugby after an horrendous injury run over the past two years.
When Poki scored his second try soon after halftime, the Highlanders had hopes of repeating last year’s victory in Bloemfontein when they fought back from a 9-30 deficit to win 36-33.
Although they stemmed the Cheetahs try-scoring ability for the remainder of the match, the Highlanders only other points came from a late try by Poki converted by Slade while Goosen managed two further penalties.
BRUMBIES V WARATAHS
The ACT Brumbies beat the hapless New South Wales Waratahs 35-6 in a Super Rugby clash yesterday despite losing David Pocock to a knee injury.
The Brumbies made light of the loss of Pocock, who limped off early with what commentators suggested was a torn anterior cruciate ligament, as Ben Mowen and Christian Lealiifano touched down to help give the home side a 21-6 halftime lead.
Henry Speight and replacement Robbie Coleman scored further tries in the final 10 minutes to secure a bonus point and round off a third straight win that cements the Brumbies’ status as the pacesetters in the Australian conference.