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Rugby | Pro14

Nico Lee © Gallo Images

Cheetahs down 14-man Kings



The Toyota Cheetahs survived a late rally by the irrepressible Isuzu Southern Kings on Saturday, beating their Guinness Pro14 local rivals 40-36 in an entertaining game in Bloemfontein.

With the win the Cheetahs won their fourth game in the competition in a row, the first time this has happened and beating the three game streak they produced last season, and continue their upward movement on the log.

But the game was marred by several cards – including a red for Southern Kings flanker CJ Velleman, who received his marching orders for diving in with an elbow to the head of Junior Pokomela when the latter had scored the try.

The decision was clear and with intent, leaving referee Stuart Berry no choice but to reach into his pocket and produce the card that reduced the Kings to 14 men permanently.

And it reduced the game to a one-sided affair, as the Cheetahs surged to a 40-15 lead in the last quarter before a late brave rally saw the Kings reply with three late tries to secure a losing bonus point in the process and give the scoreline some respectability.

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Still, both sides played with enterprise and looked good at times, although the first half produced some poor handling errors, which stopped the flow of the game at times.

And it was the home side quickly out of the gate, even though Masixole Banda opened the scoring with a penalty. It was seven minutes in the game when captain Shaun Venter found a gap around the fringes of the ruck and stretched an arm over the tryline and he was quickly followed by flyhalf Tiaan Schoeman, who was put beautifully into a hole by Venter to run in untouched.

A yellow card to Fijian midfielder Meli Rokoua for a high tackle left the Kings down to 14 men for the first time in the game, where the Cheetahs pounced and stretched the defence until William Small-Smith went in at the corner.

At 21-3 up it seemed the game would be one-sided but the Kings found vigour even without the man in the sin bin, and made inroads into the Cheetahs half.

It was Velleman who scored off a lineout move where he came in at the front to snatch the ball without a defender nearby and score, while things got worse for the Cheetahs when Small-Smith received a yellow to reduce them to 13 men just before halftime.

A sensational run early in the second half saw Yaw Pemxe go in at the corner, but the Cheetahs restored their lead, and dominance when Malcolm Jaer was the last man in a move that left the Kings’ without defenders out wide.

From there the Cheetahs put the foot down, with Pokomela going in at the corner, and Velleman being removed from the field, followed by Reinach Venter’s try to put them seemingly out of reach at 40-15 up.

But late tries by Tienie Burger, Alandre van Rooyen and Berton Klaassen reeled in the deficit to leave the Kings pleased with their effort, even though they didn’t ge the win.

SCORERS:

Toyota Cheetahs – tries: Shaun Venter, Tiaan Schoeman, William Small-Smith, Malcolm Jaer, Junior Pokomela, Reinach Venter. Conversions: Schoeman (5)

Isuzu Southern Kings – tries: CJ Velleman, Yaw Penxe, Tienie Burger, Alandre van Rooyen, Berton Klaassen. Conversions: Masixole Banda (4). Penalty: Banda.



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