Guinness PRO14 Review: Cheetahs hitting top gear

Rich Dore
04 February 2019

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Toyota Cheetahs held off a late fightback from South African rivals Isuzu Southern Kings to secure their second bonus-point derby victory in the space of a fortnight.

It was an action-packed afternoon at the Toyota Stadium and here we’re taking a look at the main talking points to emerge from Saturday’s match in Bloemfontein.

Victory may not have lifted the Cheetahs from sixth place in the Conference A table but it was nonetheless of huge importance to Franco Smith’s side.

With an 11-point gap to third before kick-off the Free Staters knew they could ill afford a slip-up if they wished to keep their Finals Series hopes alive.

However, three tries in either half ensured they picked up the result they needed, moving them to within two points of Ospreys and just 10 behind second-placed Glasgow Warriors.

The win also enabled Cheetahs to set a new club record for consecutive Guinness PRO14 victories, surpassing their previous best of three from last season.

Having held a 40-15 lead with 15 minutes remaining Smith’s men looked set for a comfortable win but the Kings crossed three times late on in a show of defiance to the last.

Smith received plenty of encouraging signs in his attack, however, where the home side built on last weekend’s thumping 61-28 win over Zebre.

In particular it was fly-half Tian Schoeman who stole the show in Bloemfontein, scoring his first Guinness PRO14 try and nailing five conversions out of six in a clinical man-of-the-match display.

Defeat for the Kings ensured they stayed bottom of Conference B but Deon Davids’ side will be able to take heart from a spirited late fightback.

Davids was encouraged by the heart shown in their late rally, which secured two bonus points for the visitors, before praising the impact his reserves had during the second half.

Full-back Masixole Banda also impressed through precise work with the boot while Yaw Penxe’s magnificent individual try would have deserved more than a narrow defeat.

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