The Cheetahs and Force were both looking for a win to add some respect to a poor season. The Force, with their key play maker Jono Lance back from injury and under Interim Head Coach David Wessels would have been feeling optimistic that they could come away with a win. Adam Colman was a late withdrawal with Rory Walton coming in to the starting line-up and Matt Philip to the bench.
The game started with some good intensity, but for Rory Walton a little too intense, leaving the field after the first minute for the blood bin, returning a few minutes later. Both team showed they were willing to attack the line and put the ball through hands but handling errors stifled both teams attacking raids early.
At the 8 minute mark a high shot on Lance gave the Force the first opportunity for points with Prior kicking the penalty.
11 minutes in Lance spilled the ball when receiving a kick, knocking it on into touch putting the Cheetahs on attack. Off the back of a dominant scrum, the Cheetahs moved the ball off the back of the scrum and Schoeman crossed for the first try of the game, Zeilinga kicking the conversion; Cheetahs leading 7-3.
At the 20 minute mark the Force suffered a blow with the loss of Falkner to what appeared to be a leg injury sustained in a scrum that was going backwards. Guy Millar came on to replace him.
The Cheetahs were soon back on attack with the lock Wegner getting through the defence, the ball being kept alive going through hands to Cassim who touched down in the corner, the conversion missed and the score was 12-3.
The Force looked to hit straight back with DHP taking the Cheetahs restart kick and putting his team on attack, the ball moving through hands to Godwin who finished over the line for the Force’s first try of the game, a good way to celebrate his 50th cap. Prior successfully converted taking the score to 12-10 to the Cheetahs
The Cheetahs quickly hit back with a run down the sideline by Petersen but he coughed up the ball allowing the Force to kick it in to touch. The Cheetahs took a quick line out and Petersen headed back towards the try line then moved the ball to Blommetjies who scored in the corner. Zeilinga missed the conversion.
3 minutes later the Cheetahs were again on attack, this time Cassim stepping through the Force line before being tackled down field. From the breakdown the Cheetahs moved the ball wide and Petersen cut through defence to score, Zeilinga converted taking the score to 24-10.
The Cheetahs got the final scoring opportunity of the half after the Force were penalised for being off their feet at the break down. The Cheetahs successfully added another 3 points. Half time score 27-10
The second half opened ominously for the Force with the Cheetahs dominating an early scrum and Petersen looking threating with every touch.
At the 47 minute mark the Force scrum held, and with the ball coming off the back Morahan ran down the left wing chipping and chasing but the Cheetahs won the race kicking it into touch just short of the line. With an attacking scrum 5 meters out, Prior hesitated with the feed due to the scrum pressure and was penalised, the attacking opportunity gone. The Cheetahs kicked to the line, the Force took a quick throw in to DHP who cut through line untouched from 45 meters out and scored. The score 27-15 after Prior missed the conversion.
At the 54 minute the Cheetahs conceded a break down penalty gifting the Force 3 points right in front which Prior took, moving the score to 27-18.
The Force made significant changes 57 minutes into the game, Msaweria coming on for Rasolea, Grant on for Lance and Louwrens on for Prior.
In the 63rd minute, with the momentum shifting, a Force attacking scrum in their own half held up and off first phase the ball went to Masirewa who chipped forward, DHP chasing. He gathered the ball and was over for his second try. Grant missed the conversion but the gap was closing with the Cheetahs lead cut to 27-23.
The Cheetahs were succumbing to the Force’s attacking pressure, losing their discipline and conceding breakdown penalties, with Grant successfully taking kicks at goal in the 69th and 72nd minutes giving the Force the lead 27-29.
With 5 minutes to go and Cheetahs on attack, Godwin was penalised for not rolling away and Zeilinga took the kick successfully, putting the Cheetahs back in front 30-29.
With 2 minutes to play the Cheetahs conceded another breakdown penalty 48 meters out from the Force line. The Force opt for the kick but Grants effort was short and wide.
Just as hearts sink, the Force got the ball back as siren sounded, giving them one last roll of the dice. The Force went on sustained attack for 23 phases but the ball popped loose out the back at the breakdown and a Cheetahs player picked up and kicked it out, ending the game.
The Force went down by 1 point but got a consolation losing bonus point.
The Game Changer
The try at 49 minute mark put the Force on the front foot and sparked a run of 19 unanswered points until the late penalty to Cheetahs closed it out.
The G&GR MOTM
Dane Haylett-Petty. With 2 tries, 209 running meters, and 9 defenders beaten he was immense and showed why he is now a Wallaby. Honourable mentions to Alcock and Godwin who both played well.
DHP showed he is still improving and is going to be hard to leave out of any future Wallaby team.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Paul Schoeman(14′) Uzair Cassiem(23′) Clayton Blommetjies(30′) Sergeal Petersen(33′)
Conversions: Fred Zeilinga 2/4
Penalties: Fred Zeilinga 2/2
Tries: Kyle Godwin(27′) Dane Haylett-Petty(50′, 64′)
Conversions: Ian Prior 1/2, Peter Grant 1/1
Penalties: Ian Prior 2/2, Peter Grant 2/3
CARDS & CITINGS