The Cheetahs scored two tries to steal a victory from a wet Kings Park.
The Cheetahs led for the entire game to take a 12 – 6 victory after leading 7 – 3 at half time.
A try in each half allowed the Cheetahs to continue in the rich vein of form they have been in, displacing the Sharks at the top of the South African conference. Raymond Rhule scored in the first half while Willie le Roux wrapped up the match late in the match.
It was a poor match for the fans as constant rain and a wet field underfoot made for terrible viewing, but the Cheetahs brought their game and walked away with a deserved four points. They dominated at scrum time after the Beast Tendai Mtawarira went off early in the first half. This brought on Jannie du Plessis and left the Sharks with two tightheads in the front row. Jannie took over the loosehead jersey, but eventually had to hand over to Wiehahn Herbst, who didn’t exactly shine. It was in this set piece as well as in the loose that the Cheetahs had the Sharks under the cosh.
Heinrich Brussow was at his best, making life very difficult for the Sharks at the breakdown, as well as being a menace on defence, holding up many a Sharks attacker, turning the tackle into a maul and winning the possession. The Cheetahs made the best of their opportunities, scoring twice from opportunistic positions, but making those tries count.
The Sharks have very little to smile about, only three players stood out for the home side. Kyle Cooper continued to show that he is the best hooker at the Sharks, behind Bismarck du Plessis, while Pieter-Steph du Toit proved his versatility in starting the match at the side of the scrum. The surprise package for the Sharks was Riaan Viljoen who was secure at the back, even in the wet, and being the best of the backs by far. Keegan Daniel had a nightmare match, dropping every single ball that came his way. There are a few injury concerns ahead of the Sharks’s tour, with Mtawarira going off with a calf injury and newly recruited Andries Coetzee going off wincing in pain with what looked like a dislocated shoulder or broken collar bone.
The Cheetahs pack played the perfect game required in such a wet match, with their tight five keeping the many scrums solid, while their loose forwards outplayed their counterparts in all aspects. Every collision saw the Cheetahs going forward, whether it be with ball in hand or on defence. Burton Francis controlled the game well with his kicking while Willie le Roux showed signs of being a great fullback, even whilst playing on the wing.
The Sharks now get on a plane to New Zealand while the Cheetahs travel back to Bloemfontein to host an interesting match against the Kings.
By Richard Ferguson