Johannesburg - Connacht produced a more controlled performance in wet and slippery conditions to condemn the Cheetahs to their third straight defeat against Irish sides in the PRO14 , winning 23-15 on Saturday night.
The Cheetahs were never really in the game as the home side recorded their third win in this year’s competition and led from start to finish as the scoreline eventually flattered the visitors.
The Cheetahs fought back in the second half, but on many occasions they were beaten to the breakdown and struggled to put phases together, with a number of handling errors ruining their attacks against a very disciplined Irish side.
The result will be a disappointment for Rory Arnold as his Cheetahs side continue to try and push for a playoff spot, but will take some solace out of the last 20 minutes of the game.
Still, this was a night where little went right for the Cheetahs as they struggled to impose themselves and were often on the receiving end of the referees whistle with Connacht bossing the breakdown.
The Cheetahs tactical kicking was also off on the night, and played into the Connacht side’s hands with some poor handling of the conditions.
Connacht opened the scoring early through a penalty through Craig Ronaldson and were further rewarded with a sparkling try by Niyi Adeolokun who burned Luther Obi on the outside after the Cheetahs winger gave him too much space on defence. The Connacht winger opened the taps and was gone, leaving Obi with grassburns as he lay spread-eagled on the floor having missed the tackle.
Ronaldson added a second penalty to stretch the lead to 13-0 before Fred Zeilinga finally got the Cheetahs on the board through a penalty.
The Cheetahs struggled throughout the opening stanza of the second half to put attacking phases together and went further down when Tom McCartney drove his way over for Connacht’s second try and a 20-3 lead.
The Cheetahs fought back, first through a well-worked outside break by Shaun Venter to score, and then through a quick penalty tap that put Makazole Mapimpi away for a try.
But they were never in with a chance of winning, especially as Steve Crosbie’s penalty – which raised the score after Venter’s try – put the game beyond them.
15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Darragh Leader, 13 Tom Farrell, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Niyi Adeolokun, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon (captain), 7 Eoin McKeon, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Substitutes: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 Conor McKeon, 22 Steve Crosbie, 23 Matt Healy
15 Fred Zeilinga, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Junior Pokomela, 7 Jasper Wiese, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Dennis Visser, 20 Rynier Bernardo, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Shaun Venter
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