GARETH DUNCAN reports on the Cheetahs’ 41-21 win over the Rebels in Bloemfontein.
After a 47-10 defeat against the Bulls at Loftus last weekend, the Rebels finished their inaugural tour to South Africa with another hefty loss against the Cheetahs, who have shown great recent form after winning their three previous matches. The hosts ran in five tries to seal their fourth consecutive triumph – their longest winning streak in Super Rugby history.
The Cheetahs’ forwards set the momentum, dominating more of the collisions and poaching ball regularly at the tackle points. The backs used this platform and played an expansive game. With good continuity, they did so successfully as the Rebels floundered on defence.
Up front, skipper Adriaan Strauss was colossal with ball in hand and scored a double while the loose trio was mobile around the park all night. Corné Uys did well at inside centre and grabbed a brace to cap off a good performance. Sias Ebersohn also contributed 14 points with the boot, only missing one penalty from his seven goal attempts.
The Rebels showed moments of good play but weren’t able to produce a total performance to trouble the Cheetahs. Ged Robinson finished off a smart lineout move for their first try while the always impressive Mark Gerrard powered over from close range for the second.
The Cheetahs surged into a 14-0 lead in the first quarter as Uys pounced on to a Sarel Pretorius offload while Ryno Benjamin capitalised on a charge down. The Rebels hit back through Robinson, but Strauss secured the home team a 21-7 lead at half-time.
Ebersohn kept the scoreboard ticking with two penalties early in the second stanza before Gerrard dotted down. The Cheetahs ran riot from thereon, with Uys and Strauss completing their doubles.
The match finished on a soured note as Pro Legoete dished out a red card and two yellows. Benjamin received his marching orders for a head butt while Stirling Mortlock was yellow carded for a punch. Riaan Viljoen was also sent to the sin bin for an early tackle on Greg Somerville in a try-scoring situation, which saw the Rebels given a penalty try for the final action of the game.
The Cheetahs will be high in confidence heading into their final three league games, which are all South African derbies. They face the Bulls in Pretoria next Saturday and then host the Sharks and Stormers in the following weekends. While it’s unlikely that they’ll finish in a play-off place, the results against those teams will be influential in what happens in the top six.