Cheetahs out-muscle Highlanders


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    The Cheetahs recorded their first Super Rugby win of the season with a comprehensive 36-19 win over the Highlanders at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Saturday night.

    The Highlanders, coming off the bye, looked disjointed and not even the return of hooker Andrew Hore from suspension and locking legend Brad Thorn’s first game for the franchise could spark them.

    They struggled for momentum against a superb Cheetahs forward pack, and possibly also missed the influence of All Blacks midfielder Ma’a Nonu, out with a late knee injury.

    Skipper Adriaan Strauss said the win was invaluable, especially looking ahead to next week’s clash across the ditch against the Waratahs.

    “We needed this win – we’ve got a couple of youngsters in the squad and we needed a bit of confidence,” he told Sky TV.

    “I think the guys have that belief now.”

    The Cheetahs ran in three first-half tries, a stark contrast to last week’s 45-3 defeat by the Chiefs when they couldn’t buy a five-pointer, and led 30-7 at the break.

    Halfback and former Waratah Sarel Pretorius opened the scoring at 20 minutes, latching onto a well-timed inside flick from flanker Lappies Labuschagne as he burst down the left wing.

    Stung into action, the Highlanders replied five minutes later when five-eighth Lima Sopoaga’s kick through found winger Kade Poki in perfect position to score.

    From then on, however, Sopoaga’s night careered downhill as he gifted the Cheetahs 14 points with two horrible mistakes.

    The first came on the half-hour mark as he tried to chip over the flat Cheetahs defensive line, only to see second five-eighth Robert Ebersohn charge the kick down and canter over unopposed for the try.

    Pretorius then picked up his second five minutes from halftime, snaffling Sopoaga’s attempted flip to Hosea Gear with the Highlanders hot on attack and running 70m unopposed to touch down.

    Five-eighth Johan Goosen’s boot was clinical in adding the extras, banging over five penalties and three conversions to keep the home team’s hopes of a fightback well under wraps.

    Coach Jamie Joseph benched Sopoaga for All Blacks No.10 Colin Slade three minutes before halftime, and the Highlanders began the second spell promisingly as Poki crossed for his second try after four minutes.

    But the Cheetahs defence regrouped and held strong, and not even Poki’s third try of the night, coming after he sliced through four tackles in the 73rd minute, could put the final result in doubt.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (66)

    • March 10th 2013 @ 2:57pm
      Winston said | March 10th 2013 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

      The cheetahs played really well. The highlanders however were pretty terrible. Got to feel for Sapoaga. He pretty much handed them 14pts. I was expecting the cheetahs d to open up in the second half but they held it together really well. Good to see a SA team do well playing such a great style of rugby

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    • March 10th 2013 @ 2:57pm
      Winston said | March 10th 2013 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

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    • March 10th 2013 @ 3:01pm
      Felix said | March 10th 2013 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

      Is anybody watching blues vs bulls,if the bulls are going to win Steyn must boot them deep into their half all day,but he needs to be at his best

    • March 10th 2013 @ 3:11pm
      Winston said | March 10th 2013 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

      Blues have come out stronger in second half

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    • March 10th 2013 @ 3:53pm
      Nick_Brisbane said | March 10th 2013 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

      Two NZ home losses to SA teams in one weekend – must be a first

    • March 10th 2013 @ 4:00pm
      Felix said | March 10th 2013 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

      Bulls just had to win because the Stormers won,there is huge competition & debate in South Africa about which team is the best in SA.

      • Roar Guru

        March 10th 2013 @ 5:34pm
        biltongbek said | March 10th 2013 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

        So far the Bulls have surprised me to be honest, the Sharks haven’t lost yeat, but boy were they poor last night.

        • March 11th 2013 @ 9:50am
          Suzy Poison said | March 11th 2013 @ 9:50am | ! Report

          Or possibly the kings aren’t that bad? They might even win another game! The Kings defence was good I thought!
          Bulls surprised me, by beating Blues..that was one result I did not expect. I have been critical of Spies in the past, but having Vermeulen as competition, is pushing him. He really is looking like a man who wants his jersey back.

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