Sunwolves Hammered By Cheetahs
Home Side Start Well But Run Out Of Gas In Penultimate Home Game
In a game reminiscent of their recent defeat to the Crusaders, the home side's kicking game was largely to blame, with the Cheetahs much more willing to play with the ball in hand and carve open the Sunwolves.
"It was a tough competition out there, especially in the first half, the Sunwolves' defence was exceptional. We dominated territory and possession enormously and they managed to keep us out," said the Cheetahs' Head Coach Franco Smith. "Fortunately, things went our way in the second half but the end result was not a true reflection of the quality of the side we played against."
The Cheetahs started brightly, controlling play and forcing the Sunwolves into a kicking strategy that poured even more pressure on the home side. It took some dogged defending from the Sunwolves to keep the South African side at bay until the 16th minute, but Uzair Cassiem finally found a way through the tiring defence.
Then right on the stroke of half time, Niell Jordaan added another try for the Cheetahs after some patient build-up play to send the visitors in at the break up 14-0.
Things didn't get any better after half time, with Niel Marais immediately scoring another try for the Cheetahs. The fly half missed the conversion though, meaning the game was still within reach for the Sunwolves.
The Japanese side finally sparked into life shortly after the restart, with a clever kick from Fumi Tanaka leading to a Sunwolves scrum only 5 metres from the Cheetahs' try line. The home side were rewarded for their efforts, with Sam Wykes breaking the line and planting the ball beneath the posts in the 48th minute. With only 12 points separating the two sides and with plenty of time still left on the clock, the' crowd and players sensed a comeback.
It wasn’t to be however as the Sunwolves ran out of gas during the final quarter of the match and the Cheetahs suddenly found their ruthless side, scoring four tries in the last twenty minutes to run out comfortable winners.
"I thought in patches throughout the game we played reasonably well, at least until the 60th minute. But during the final quarter, we weren't great," said Sunwolves' Head Coach Filo Tiatia. "There is a certain trend where we are conceding points in certain periods of the match and it's something we need to rectify."
"There were plenty of opportunities that the Cheetahs presented us but we didn't take them. There were times where we could have regained possession but we weren't clinical enough to get on the ball and try and put pressure on the Cheetahs," Tiatia said.
Cheetahs' captain, Torstein van Jaarsveld, was happy with his team's performance and the way they controlled the match. "We pushed them really well into the corners and they didn't have other options but to kick the ball back, and it worked well for us," said the captain. "They started off defending really well but I think you can only defend for so long in a rugby match, and then they started to wear out. We got more yards and more gains, and then our backs finished it off late in the game."
Filo Tiatia couldn't hide his disappointment with the way the game finished and wanted fans to know that his team are still learning and looking to improve.
"We are all disappointed today. We've got the best fans that come and support the Sunwolves. The coaching staff, the organisation and the players were disappointed in the way we played today. We are trying and we understand we need to be better," he said.
- Lee Watkins: May 27th 2017
Cheetahs 47 - 7 Sunwolves
Photos: John Gunning / Chris Pfaff May 27th 2017: Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground