Rugby: Chiefs outclass Cheetahs

Craig Clarke of the Chiefs during last night’s clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. Photo / Getty Images
Craig Clarke of the Chiefs during last night’s clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. Photo / Getty Images

The Chiefs showed their class with a 39-33 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein which moved them to the top of the Super Rugby table.

The visitors dominated but couldn't shake off the plucky Cheetahs, who kept them honest throughout.

The teams were locked at 22-all with 10 minutes to play, before the Chiefs scored two late tries for a bonus-point victory.

"We knew they love to play an expansive game and they've got some good ball runners. We expected a tough game from them and we certainly got it,'' Chiefs captain Craig Clarke said.

Despite being outplayed in the first spell, the Cheetahs trailed just 10-9 at halftime. Sias Ebersohn kicked three penalties to a Lelia Masaga try and two kicks to Aaron Cruden.

Cruden was exceptional throughout the game, calling the shots in the backline and was named man of the match.

However, it was the forwards who tamed the Cheetahs, with solid ruck defence stopping several second half attacks cold and earning turnovers.

One such turnover just minutes into the second spell led to prop Arizona Taumalolo muscling his way over from close range to score his fifth try of the season.

Ashley Johnson intercepted a pass and ran 40m to score the Cheetahs' first try. Johan Goosan added the extras to put the home side in the lead and then added another penalty to make it 22-17.

Taumalolo got his double after sustained pressure on the Cheetahs line to set up a thrilling final 10 minutes.

Another turnover by the Chiefs forwards was pivotal and led to Sonny Bill Williams scoring from a Chiefs backline set-piece move. Centre Richard Kahui finished the game off with another expansive try with five minutes still to play.

Goosan scored a late consolation try and added a late penalty to earn a bonus point but the Chiefs showed why they are now frontrunners for the title.

- AAP

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