The Western Force ended a three match losing streak to the Cheetahs when they beat the Bloemfontein side 16-23 on Saturday.
The victory moves the Force back into second place in the Australian Conference and fourth place overall which keeps the Perth side on track for their first ever play off place. The Cheetahs earned a losing bonus point from the contest which moved them off the bottom of the standings and above the Stormers. The Western Force claimed a second South African scalp, after beating the Bulls in Perth two weeks ago, ahead of their upcoming game against the Stormers next weekend in Cape Town.
The visitors started at a steady pace, playing the sort of attacking rugby that serves as testimony to their performances so far in the competition. They applied pressure to grab an early lead of 3-0 after flyhalf Sias Ebersohn kicked a penalty. The Cheetahs woke from their winter sleep and put together some impressive phases of play. It forced the visitors to infringe and the resulting penalties gave Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen the opportunity to kick at goal.
Goosen missed his first attempt, but slotted his second shortly afterwards to level the scores. An accidental off-side by the Force robbed them of their first try of the game, but they received a consolation prize when Ebersohn kicked his second penalty resulting from pressure applied by the Perth-based side. The Cheetahs struggled to secure their possession at the break down area and the Force uses every turnover opportunity to launch their attacks.
Their enterprising play paid off when fullback Jayden Hayward scored from a counterattack in the corner, 15 minutes before half time. Ebersohn converted to leave the Cheetahs trailing by ten points. The hosts played some exciting running rugby, but the Force were extremely organised in defence and many of the Cheetahs’ chances went begging. They also struggled at scrum time and conceded numerous penalties even though they were bolstered by Springbok stalwarts Coenie Oosthuizen and Adriaan Strauss.
The Force opened up the lead to 13 points when Ebersohn kicked another penalty, but Goosen replied on the half-time whistle to see the Force head into the bleachers with a lead of 16-6.
The Cheetahs started the second half at a fierce pace and built up some good momentum. After Force flanker Matt Hodgson was yellow-carded for a professional foul, eighthman Boom Prinsloo nudged over for the hosts after a good effort by flanker Teboho Mohoje. Goosen converted to leave his side trailing by just three points. It was turnover possession that once again led to a Force try, with the Cheetahs having to turn around after being on the front foot.
In the end winger Nick Cummins, better known as the Honey Badger, scored a try after the Cheetahs could not patch the holes from the turnover. Ebersohn converted, leaving the hosts to trail by ten points once again. Goosen reduced it to seven points with another penalty kick but the hosts still trailed by a converted try.
Despite numerous attacks, the Cheetahs could not breach the Force’s defence.
Final Score Cheetahs 16 (6) Force 23 (16)
Pen – J.Goosen 3
Con – J.Goosen.
Tries – J.Hayward, N.Cummins
Pen – S.Ebersohn 3
Con – S.Ebersohn 2
Drop -Cards – M.Hodgson (45th min yellow)