The Brumbies were made to work for a 25-18 win against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Brumbies needed to bounce back after a 31-11 defeat to the Stormers in round four. They will be pleased with the result in Bloemfontein this weekend, and with their four-point lead at the top of the Australian conference log.
Their performance, however, was anything but polished. The Brumbies battled to assert themselves at the breakdowns and collisions. They will lament their inconsistency on attack, and may come to regret the failure to obtain the try-scoring bonus point.
The Cheetahs were competitive at the breakdowns. They were up to the challenge at the gainline and often got the better of the Brumbies at scrum time. Unfortunately for the hosts, the backline could not make the most of their scoring chances.
The Cheetahs fought back from a 10-point deficit to trail 15-8 at half-time. Had they taken more of their scoring opportunities and punished the Brumbies while No 5 Sam Carter was in the sin bin, the game may have been very different in the second stanza. As it was, the Cheetahs failed to score while they enjoyed a one-man advantage.
The Brumbies scored first after the break through a Christian Leali’ifano penalty goal. In the 58th minute, prop Ben Alexander crashed over the tryline. Another successful goal kick by Leali’ifano handed the visitors a 17-point buffer.
The Cheetahs continued to compete fiercely in the final quarter. They claimed a consolation try in the 75th minute when Sergeal Petersen crashed over in the right-hand corner. This score put paid to the Brumbies’ ambitions of obtaining a try-scoring bonus point.
The hosts had the final say when Niel Marais nailed a penalty goal from right in front. The kick handed the Cheetahs a losing bonus point for finishing within seven of the victors.
Cheetahs – 18
Tries: Uzair Cassiem, Sergeal Petersen
Conversion: Niel Marais
Penalties. Marais (2)
Brumbies – 25
Tries: Ita Vaea, Aidan Toua. Ben Alexander
Conversions: Christian Leali’ifano (2)
Penalties: Leali’ifano (2)
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Hilton Lobberts, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga
Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Christian Lealiifano (c), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong
Date: Saturday, March 26
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, AJ Jacobs
TMO: Willie Vos