RYAN VREDE watched Piet van Zyl score a try after the siren had sounded to help the Cheetahs beat the Rebels 33-26 in a highly entertaining clash in Melbourne.
The Cheetahs were denied with a last-minute penalty against the Brumbies last week but wouldn’t be again, scoring a try that was birthed well in their territory and featured some sublime handling and angled running. It will feature prominently when television networks compile their Try of the Season packages.
And they deserved this win. They started superbly, scoring in the second minute through Willie le Roux after a move that punched up left through numerous phases then swung right to the winger.
The Rebels responded five minutes later through Gareth Delve, but the first half belonged entirely to the Cheetahs, whose gainline defence was excellent and didn’t allow the Rebels to build any momentum, while their impact in this facet of play on attack enabled them to control the flow and tempo of the match and force the Rebels into infringements under pressure.
Le Roux grabbed his brace when he intercepted a hopeful James O’Connor pass and ran in untouched. Johan Goosen kicked his second conversion and later built the Cheetahs’ lead further with two penalties.
Leading 20-10 at the break the Cheetahs needed just to continue to work from the script that had brought them success. But the Rebels exited the tunnel a reborn side, retaining the ball through phases, exhibiting invention in the backline play and in doing so making the Cheetahs scramble desperately to repel them.
O’Connor single-handedly levelled the scores within 10 minutes of the restart through a penalty and converted try but the Cheetahs did well not to get blown away by their resurgent hosts, O’Connor and Goosen trading penalties to leave the scores deadlocked at 26-all with 10 minutes to play.
It was a breathless period with both sides having opportunities to snatch the win but ultimately the Cheetahs would construct an incredible 16-phase move that culminated in Van Zyl’s decisive score.