Sensational winger Sergeal Petersen and the big number eight Paul Schoeman both ran in a hat-trick of tries as the Cheetahs thumped the Sunwolves 92-17 in Bloemfontein on Friday, the second biggest winning margin in Super Rugby history.
It seemed as if the game was going to be a high scoring affair, with 17 points being scored within the first ten minutes, and it certainly lived up expectations as the Cheetahs ran in five tries in the first quarter of the match.
The visitors’ hectic travelling schedule – as expected – took a toll on their reaction time both on attack and defence as the men from Bloemfontein ran in seven tries to none in the first half and by the end had outscored their struggling visitors fourteen tries to two.
As much as the scoreline reflects the attacking prowess of the home side, it also is a testament of their discipline on defence.
In an all-round brilliant display of talent and skill from the home side they added multiple second half tries. Captain Francois Venter, scrum-half Shaun Venter, number eight Paul Schoeman and the flying 21-year-old Sergeal Petersen were all heavily involved.
An early penalty was awarded to the Sunwolves after Torsten van Jaarsveld failed to release the tackled player, as Tusi Pisi drew first blood for the visitors to make it 0-3.
The Namibian hooker redeemed himself moments later after the Cheetahs opted to go for a five-metre lineout as opposed to taking the three points, and it paid off as Van Jaarsveld crashed after the home side mauled over for the first try of the match. Marais added the extras to make it 7-3.
Cheetahs captain Venter then snatched the ball out of the grasp of Mifiposeti Paea after Pisi’s pass failed to go to hand. The inside centre ran in untouched, just 90 seconds after the first score. Marais made no mistake with the conversion.
Uzair Cassiem then went over for the Cheetahs third and bonus point try in the corner. The flanker had to fend off two Sunwolves defenders, Marais converted from a difficult angle to make it 21-3.
Venter found a speeding Raymond Rhule on his inside as the flying winger went over for the fourth Cheetahs try before Sergeal Petersen also got on the scoring sheet in the 20th minute, the right winger beating replacement winger Yasutaka Sasakura whne he gathered a well-placed grubber kick to cross the whitewash in the corner, Marais unsuccessful from the tee as the score remained 33-3.
Scrum-half Shaun Venter went in for the home side’s sixth try after he and hooker Van Jaarsveld linked brilliantly on the blindside. The 29-year-old number nine muscled his way over the try line with two Sunwolves players on his back. Marais missed the conversion once again.
A box kick from scrum-half Venter was then taken by a speeding Petersen and the 21-year-old winger went over for his second try. Marais converted to make the score 45-3 as the players made their way into the locker rooms.
The Cheetahs picked up where they left off at the end of the first half after the break with Hilton Lobberts going over for the first try of the second half. Cassiem and Petersen linked beautifully before Petersen executed the final pass that sent Lobberts over the whitewash.
Just three minutes later it was the full-back Clayton Blommetjies that got on the scoresheet after Venter took a quick tap and Blommetjies caught a few Sunwolves player off guard and went over, Marais added the extras to make the score 59-3.
The visitors had to wait until the 48th minute before they scored their first try of the match, Derek Carpenter scoring under the uprights. Pisi added the extras making the score 59-10.
Consistent and relentless attack from the Sunwolves gifted them their second try, left winger Paea going over in the corner, with Pisi converting again.
Number eight Paul Schoeman though pounced on a loose ball after the Sunwolves were trying to run the ball from their try line, the back-rower crashing over and Marais added the extras that took the score to 66-17.
The driving maul was used to great effect as replacement hooker Jacques du Toit crashed over for his first Super Rugby and the Cheetahs’ tenth try, before after a turnover at the ruck the ball was hacked forward for Petersen to gather as the speedster ran in for his third try of the match, replacement fly-half Fred Zeilinga adding the extras.
The prolific winger then looked set for his fourth of the match but he handed it to Schoeman to get his second instead, this after Nico Lee offloaded to the flyer.
Moments later the big number eight went in for his hat-trick after linking up with the everpresent Petersen.
Zeilinga’s conversion took the scoreline to 92-17, as the Cheetahs recorded the second biggest winning margin in Super Rugby history with a colossal win that will have the Sunwolves heading home battered and bruised.
CHEETAHS – 92
Tries: Torsten Van Jaarsveld (6),Francois Venter (8),Uzair Cassiem (14),Raymond Rhule (17),Sergeal Petersen (20,32,74),Shaun Venter (25),Hilton Lobberts (42),Clayton Blommetjies (45),Paul Schoeman (63,77,79),Jacques Du Toit (69)
Conversions: Niel Marais (7,9,15,18,33,43,46,64),Fred Zeilinga (75,78,80)
SUNWOLVES – 17
Tries: Derek Carpenter (47), Mifiposeti Paea (59)
Penalties: Tusi Pisi (3)
Conversions: Tusi Pisi (48,61)
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Francois Venter (c), 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Hilton Lobberts, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Danie Minnie, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Oupa Mohoje, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga
Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Harumichi Tatekawa, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Mifiposeti Paea, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Yuki Yatomi, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Tomás Leonardi, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Masataka Mikami
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Ziun Gu, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Faatiga Lemalu, 20 Yoshiya Hosoda, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Yasutaka Sasakura
Date: Friday, April 15
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner, Lourens van der Merwe
TMO: Marius Jonker