Cheetahs claim famous victory
Sarel Pretorius (Gallo Images)
The Cheetahs caused the upset of the weekend with a 33-20 win over the Crusaders in their Super Rugby clash in Bloemfontein.
The Bloemfontein franchise secured their third ever consecutive win over one of the competition’s log leaders with flyhalf Sias Ebersohn playing a pivotal role in the famous victory.
The Cheetahs did well from the outset to close Crusaders centre Sonny Bill Williams’ space down, giving the Crusaders' playmaker little room to create magic on attack.
The hosts opened the scoring with Ebersohn slotting over a penalty a few moments after the start of the match.
Crusaders flyhalf Dan Carter missed in his attempt at the posts moments later, but soon afterwards the visitors scored the first try of the match.
The Cheetahs defense held strongly until the ninth minute when Robbie Freuen broke through the line to load off to Crusaders fullback Zac Guildford on his outside, with Guyildford going over for the try.
Carter converted the try to give the Crusaders a four point lead.
Despite a strong attacking performance in the opening moments of the match the Cheetahs lost too many balls at the contact area.
The Cheetahs, however, got onto the front foot from a Riaan Viljoen kick which was fielded by Sarel Pretorius.
The hosts secured quick ball from the breakdown with Ashley Johnson sending a long pass to Robert Ebersohn who stepped inside to score.
His twin brother converted the try to level the score shortly before the first quarter of the match.
The Cheetahs flyhalf was the standout player on the night with pinpoint tactical kicking and near flawless goal kicking performance.
It should be noted that the Cheetahs forwards were dominant enough to keep the pressure off their flyhalf.
The home team ignored one of the golden rules in rugby not to fall for a dummy when Dan Carter sold one to the Cheetahs defense for his try, five minutes before the break.
Carter converted his own try to give his team a one point lead going into the halftime break.
After the interval Sias Ebersohn continued his fine form with a penalty in the 50th minute and minutes later he confirmed his class with a converted try of his own.
With a 26-17 lead the Cheetahs' confidence grew at a steady pace as they kept the Crusaders from their goal line.
The Crusaders only added only three points in the second half through a penalty kick from Mathew Berquist who substituted Carter.
With seven minutes left in the match, standout forward Ashley Johnson scored an intercept try after the Crusaders fumbled the ball on attack.
The visitors attacked valiantly in the dying moments of the match, but the resurgent Cheetahs' team defense held to secure a famous win for the long suffering central South African team.
15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Riaan Smit, 13. Robert Ebersohn, 12. Corné Uys, 11. Rayno Benjamin, 10. Sias Ebersohn, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 8. Davon Raubenheimer, 7. Ashley Johnson, 6. Heinrich Brussow, 5. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4. Francois (FS) Uys, 3. WP Nel, 2. Adriaan Strauss (Captain), 1. Coenie Oosthuizen
Replacements: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Lourens Adriaanse, 18. Waltie Vermeulen, 19. Kabamba Floors, 20. Tewis de Bruyn, 21. Naas Olivier, 22. Hennie Daniller
15 Tom Marshall, 14 Robbie Fruean, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks
Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Joe Wheeler, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Steve Alfeld, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Brent Ward