The Cheetahs had a lot to prove on Saturday in Tokyo.
They’re still facing relegation from Super Rugby, while their opponents, the badly outplayed Sunwolves, are safe for the sake of global development of the game.
The Cheetahs, who scored seven tries to one, managed just their third win and broke a nine-game losing streak with their commanding 47-7 victory and also completed the double over the Sunwolves after beating them 38-31 back in round three.
And for good measure they allowed lock Francois Uys, in his farewell season, to take the last conversion and surprisingly he converted wing Sergeal Petersen’s try from the touchline!
Who was the star in this match?
Cheetahs flyhalf Niel Marais not only scored his team’s third and decisive try just after the break but he was always in the thick of things, giving direction to his backline, while turning the Sunwolves with clever tactical kicking.
He converted five of his team’s seven tries, while creating the space for Cassiem to score his second try in the 68th minute and a valuable lead of 26-7.
Key themes and events
- The Cheetahs would have felt hard done by after dominating possession and territory to the tune of around 80% in the first half. They eventually finally scored two tries in the first 40 minutes but should have shown more productivity from their dominance.
- Several promising Cheetahs attacks in the opening half lead to nothing because of passes being forced or landing in no-man’s land. They also showed a distinct lack of patience, while the Sunwolves deserve some praise for their tireless defence.
- After a 14-point lead at the break, Cheetahs flyhalf Niel Marais probably scored the best try of the game just two minutes after the break for a vital lead of 19-0. It was a sight to behold after the ball went through at least seven pair of hands.
- The Cheetahs’ replacements proved to be the difference in the second half, exemplified by scrumhalf Tian Meyer scoring his team’s sixth try three minutes from time after replacing Shaun Venter.
Sunwolves – Try: Sam Wykes. Conversion: Yu Tamura.
Cheetahs – Tries: Uzair Cassiem (2), Niell Jordaan, Niel Marais, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Tian Meyer, Sergeal Petersen. Conversions: Marais (5), Francois Uys.