Chiefs dig deep to secure bonus point win

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Lynn McConnell     16 Apr 2017     Getty Images

Following through on a kick ahead by first five-eighths Aaron Cruden, after the ball had been snaffled by replacement prop Sosefi Kautai when a Cheetahs chip kick went awry, Stevenson got a favourable bounce and while almost tripped, he recovered his balance and scored.


Desperation tactics by the home side saw them throwing the ball behind their goal-line and when the ball was dropped replacement hooker Hika Elliot never scored an easier try than only having to drop on the ball to score the bonus point try for the side.

But for a long period a 14-point win would not have been considered likely given the spirit the Chiefs played with.

It had been a long, tough battle for the Chiefs who had to go without the ball for long periods as the home team opted to hold onto the ball rather than kicking it away and the Cheetahs got out to a 24-0 lead after 21 minutes.

The home side made a strong start, and were helped by a string of penalties awarded against the Chiefs. That allowed the Cheetahs to employ their lineout maul and in the 10th minute it finally produced reward with wing Raymond Rhule coming into the backline from the short side to power over for the try.

Six minutes later, a well-placed kick to the corner by first five-eighths Niel Marais, rebounded into touch from fullback Damian McKenzie's shoulder. That gave the Cheetahs another opportunity to mount their driving maul and it was hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld who scored.

The Cheetahs forced a 22m drop out and they hit the Chief hard when centre Francois Venter took advantage of good lead-up work by flanker Oupe Mohoje and wing Sergeai Petersen to extend their lead to 24-0 after 21 minutes.

However, Mohoje came off second best when attempting to tackle Michael Leitch close to the sideline and he was forced to get a concussion test. From the lineout, the Chiefs put their lineout maul to work and after moving it infield the ball was moved back to the right where wing Toni Pulu dived over in the corner for the try in the 28th minute.

A turnover at a tackle in mid-field by Sam Cane resulted in a penalty kick to the corner. The Chiefs threw long and Cane came around to take the ball and his drive was stopped just short of the line but Pulu was right on hand to take the ball to score and reduce the half-time deficit to 10 points.

Four minutes into the second half the Chiefs lost prop Kane Hames to the sin-bin for a mauling infringement. The Cheetahs tried yet another rolling maul from the lineout, but lost the ball. The sides exchanged penalty goals before the Chiefs defence pushed the Cheetahs into touch. Brodie Retallick claimed the lineout and McKenzie joined the line to enjoy a double burst with the ball when not held in the tackle.

When he was stopped the ball dropped free for centre Sam McNicholl and he fed halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow in for the the try. Cane and Retallick took control at the breakdown into the final quarter and with hooker Brayden Mitchell contributing in the backline, the scores were levelled in the 60th minute when left wing James Lowe scored with Cruden's conversion claiming the lead.

Scorers: Cheetahs 27 (Raymond Rhule, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Francois Venter tries; Niel Marais 3 con, 2 pen) Chiefs 41 (Toni Pulu 2, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, James Lowe, Shaun Stevenson, Hika Elliot tries; Aaron Cruden 4 con, pen). HT: 24-14