Bloemfontein - The Cheetahs secured their fourth consecutive Super Rugby victory by beating the Rebels 34-16 in at the Free State Stadium on Saturday.
The Bloemfontein outfit, who followed their three wins abroad with a stellar performance against the Rebels, started with some good attacking play and put the visitors under pressure early on.
Replacement flyhalf Burton Francis, coming in for the injured Riaan Smit shortly before kick-off, had the visitors turning around with every tactical kick.VIDEO: Cheetahs v Rebels, highlights
In pouring rain, the Cheetahs took no unnecessary chances and opted for shots at goal rather than attacking lineouts when awarded penalties.
Francis got the hosts on the board in the 15th minute via his kicking boot after the Rebels infringed at the breakdown.
The tourists put in some good hits on defence early on but struggled to capitalise on the possession they earned. In contrast, Francis' penalty inspired his team to start running with the ball, even though the poor conditions led to numerous handling errors.
Rebels fullback James O'Connor finally got his side on the board, kicking a penalty in the 22nd minute. It was some reward for the visitors in a game that lacked intensity in the first 20 minutes.
O'Connor added another three points shortly thereafter and the Rebels seemed to rise from their slumber.
The Melbourne side started playing with more gusto and in turn put the Cheetahs under pressure on their own goalline.
The hosts, however, did well on defence and snubbed the Rebels of any five pointers.
Keeping the ball in hand, the Cheetahs moved it down the backline and found space on the outside. Centre Johann Sadie broke the defence and offloaded to fullback Hennie Daniller, who went over in the corner for a converted try.
That put the Cheetahs in the driving seat with a 10-6 advantage at half-time.
The home side started the second half at a frantic pace and winger Raymond Rhule scored in the 52nd minute, with the Rebels left floundering on defence. Rhule pounced on a hand-off by centre Robert Ebersohn and ran through for a try under the uprights.
That inspired the hosts to go for the bonus point, which they achieved after winger Willie le Roux and Sadie scored in succession.
Replacement winger Rayno Benjamin then went over in the corner to put the result beyond doubt, with Rebels replacement lock Cadeyrn Neville adding a converted five-pointer near the end to soften the blow.
Their four win on the trot is a new record for the Cheetahs franchise in Super Rugby.Scorers:Cheetahs:
Tries: Hennie Daniller, Raymond Rhule, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie, Rayno Benjamin
Conversions: Burton Francis (3)
Try: Cadeyrn Neville
Conversion: James O'Connor
Penalties: O'Connor (3)Teams:
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Sarel Pretorius
, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss
(captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen
, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Barry Geel, 22 Ryno BenjaminRebels:
15 James O'Connor, 14 Richard Kingi, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Lachlan Mitchell, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Jordy Reid, 6 Gareth Delve, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson
Substitutes: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Rory Sidey, Tom English