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06 Apr 2008 09:30
The Cheetahs claimed their first Super 14 win of the season and moved off the bottom of the table by defeating the Queensland Reds 29-14 on Saturday.
The Bloemfontein-based franchise also snatched a bonus point when centre JW Jonker scored a breakaway stoppage-time try at a sparsely populated Absa Stadium.
It completed a joyful weekend for the basement dwellers as the other team without a win ahead of the eighth round, Otago Highlanders of New Zealand, also broke their duck.
Winning lifted the Cheetahs, whose campaign has been dogged by ill luck, three places to 11th, one point behind the Reds on the southern hemisphere inter-provincial championship standings.
After suffering seven consecutive losses in a competition won by fellow South Africans the Bulls last year, the Cheetahs laid the victory foundations with 17 unanswered early points.
They retained that advantage until half-time in perfect conditions and added another converted try soon after the break to lead 24-0 before the Reds cut the gap to 10 points.
But the Australians could not pierce a tiring Cheetahs defence again and finished their South Africa tour without a win after drawing with the Golden Lions and losing to the Sharks.
The Reds suffered a huge double blow midway through the first half when key players, fullback Chris Latham and scrumhalf and captain Sam Cordingley, retired injured within 60 seconds of each other.
Cheetahs captain and lock Rory Duncan said: “This result has been a long time coming and a huge relief after some narrow defeats. The team played with heart and defended superbly.”
Cordingley responded: “I am very disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm in the early stages when the damage was done.
Maybe we underestimated the Cheetahs after a good showing against the Sharks last weekend.”
Duncan scored his first Super 14 try on four minutes, barging over after strong, straight running put the Reds under pressure from the kick-off, and flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter converted.
Centre Meyer Bosman evaded the clutches of Latham to dot down six minutes later, Potgieter converted again and dropped a goal to give the Cheetahs a 17-0 advantage midway through the half.
Man-of-the-match and number eight Duanne Vermeulen held off Reds lock Brad Humphries to score the third South African try five minutes into the second half, and Potgieter again added the extra two points.
World Cup-winning Springbok forward Juan Smith, who missed the Australasia tour through injury, came on but could not prevent the resurgent Reds crossing the line twice through Charlie Fetoai, who replaced Latham.
The second of the tries, both of which wing Clinton Schifcofske converted, came while Cheetahs Bok prop CJ van der Linde was in the sin bin after New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence finally lost patience with constant foul play.—AFP
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