Cheetahs deny Stormers
A late penalty from Burton Francis saw the Cheetahs seal a 26-24 victory over the Stormers at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
With time up on the clock, the former Stormers player came back to haunt his ex-charges with a kick from close to the touchline to win the game.
The Cheetahs were supremely dominant in the opening 20 minutes and despite being 0-3 down to a Joe Pietersen penalty, they held all the aces in terms of possession and territory. Willie le Roux was popping up at fly-half on numerous occasions while their pack was getting on top.
It eventually paid off too and it was ironic that they finally broke the deadlock from an attack that began from Stormers ball. Prop Steven Kitshoff spilled possession on the Cheetahs 22 and when Robert Ebersohn's kick downfield saw Jaco Taute turned over by Piet van Zyl the overlap was on. The Cheetahs made no mistake in capitalising on the disorganised defence as the ball was shifted left to Adriaan Strauss who found centre Ebersohn waiting to dive over.
At 7-3 down the Stormers were clearly rattled and it was somewhat evident when they chose to turn down kickable points, instead going for the corner. It backfired as Juan de Jongh coughed up possession soon after to hand the ball back to the hosts before Taute left the field with a horrible knee injury.
However a lift to the Stormers came soon after as on 33 minutes De Jongh crossed wide on the left, finishing off go-forward ball from hooker Deon Fourie. Pietersen's conversion was unsuccessful so it was now a one-point ball game in favour of the Capetonians as half-time approached in Bloemfontein.
The Stormers were not done though, as again from a decision not to take the points offer, their efforts were rewarded when De Jongh burrowed over again.
Elton Jantjies gave the Cheetahs a chance to cut the margin to 10-15 when he took Strauss high and Burton Francis duly obliged with the penalty kick while the dynamic duo of Sarel Pretorius and Coenie Oosthuisen emerged from the sidelines for the final half-an-hour. The former made an immediate impact.
Pretorius stole the ball from the boot of Nic Groom and promptly raced 40 metres to the corner for a converted try that put the Cheetahs 17-15 in front. However, that was to be his last act in a cameo as he left the field having damaged a hamstring before Pietersen kicked two goals to make it 17-21.
Francis did cut the gap on the hour mark before landing a monster drop-goal in the 67th minute that made it 23-21, sending the home crowd into raptures.
But there was more drama to come as after Pietersen had made it 23-24 with six minutes remaining, a late penalty was blown against Stormers replacement Damian de Allende at the breakdown and fly-half Francis did the rest.
Tries: Ebersohn, Pretorius
Con: Francis 2
Pen: Francis 3
Tries: De Jongh 2
Pen: Pietersen 4
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johan Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuisen, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Joe Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Damian de Allende.
Referee: Stuart Berry