Super 14 - Round 9 Review
Brumbies smash hapless Cheetahs
April 10, 2010

The Brumbies threw off the attacking shackles in front of their home fans to win 61-15 against the struggling Cheetahs in Canberra.

The Brumbies had eight different scorers in their nine-try rout, with only prop and season top-scorer Ben Alexander crossing twice. The Cheetahs stayed in touch for half an hour, mostly due to some cynical penalties that disrupted the Brumbies attack, and they even led after five minutes through a penalty of their own.

The hosts weren't interested in three-pointers though, and they launched their come-from-behind victory through skipper Stephen Hoiles with a close-range effort. The Cheetahs were poor with their execution at the scrum and the line-out, and the relentless pressure led to a yellow card for Barend Pieterse.

Patrick Phibbs snuck in untouched from a scrum near the Cheetahs' line to capitalise on the man advantage, and Tyrone Smith pushed the Brumbies out to a 21-3 half time lead after hitting a nice inside ball from Matt Giteau.

The Cheetahs resistance dropped somewhat after the break and Rocky Elsom, Alexander and Adam Ashley-Cooper scored in the third quarter of the game, Elsom's being the try of the match after a diagonal, length of the field move started in the Brumbies' 22.

Sarel Pretorius and Adriaan Strauss crossed for the Cheetahs as mere consolations before Matt Toomua collected the post awkwardly as he crossed in the 72nd minute. Alexander scored again late and Alfi Mafi scored from a chip through after the hooter to get the party going in the Australian capital.

Another round of action brought another defeat for the winless Lions, who remain rooted to the foot of the Super 14 table after going down 41-26 at home to the Reds on Saturday evening.

The Reds rocked their hosts by scoring a staggering four tries in the opening 16 minutes. Rod Davies crossed after less than 60 seconds, finishing smartly in the corner after winning the race to Quade Cooper's grubber. The Reds were over again just three minutes later, with Cooper touching down this time around after a tremendous break from Peter Hynes had ripped the Lions defence to shreds.

The third try arrived on nine minutes when Will Genia put Anthony Faingaa in before the Reds racked up the bonus point when Davies dotted again. The Lions were unsurprisingly shellshocked but they managed to regroup and Michael Killian finally gave the stunned Johannesburg crowd something to cheer about when he dived over in the 25th minute after a sustained spell of pressure from the hosts.

The home side then threatened to pull off a remarkable comeback when Franco van der Merwe and Herkie Krugie both crossed in a five-minute purple patch just before the hour.

However, the shock of seeing the Lions draw to within eight points woke the Reds from their mid-match slumber and they reasserted their superiority with two more tries, through Hynes and Ezra Taylor.

Credit to the Lions, though, they refused to stop fighting and racked up a deserved bonus point when Killian completed his brace in the final minute of normal time.

A superb start by the Stormers proved too much for a gallant yet erratic Blues outfit as the visitors grabbed a 33-21 victory at Eden Park.

The Stormers have the best defence in Super 14 and it was put to the test by an expansive Blues attack, but basic errors haunted the hosts as the Stormers consolidated their top four position.

Jaque Fourie and Dewaldt Duvenhage crossed early for the Stormers, who appeared desperate to bounce back from their disappointing loss to the Force last week. They added a pair of penalties through Peter Grant, before Serge Lilo got the Blues off the mark shortly before half time after Isaia Toeava's brilliant bust.

The Blues started the second half the stronger and started putting pressure on the Stormers' line and centre Luke McAlister capitalised by scoring out wide. The Blues had a midfield line-out from another desperate clearance and, indicatively of their night, a sloppy throw allowed replacement Anton van Zyl to score a runaway try against the run of play. Joe Rokocoko hit straight back for the Blues with the try of the match, bursting through and swapping passes at top speed with Toeava, but it was now too little too late as the Stormers held on.

The Western Force have secured back-to-back wins after losing their first six games of the season with a superb 41-27 victory over the Highlanders, who fell well short in the picturesque surrounds of Queenstown on Saturday.

After scoring just seven tries in the first eight rounds, the Force scored six in a scrappy yet exciting game in the South Island holiday capital. The Highlanders stayed in touch until the injection of reserve scrum-half Justin Turner gave the Force some real go-forward and eventually a bonus point win.

Returning wing Cameron Shepherd and centre Ryan Cross both grabbed doubles for the resurgent visitors, who appear to have found a winning formula with their use of talent in the backs, while Turner was rewarded with a try and James O'Connor also crossed.

The action-packed first half featured just one try to Shepherd while Jimmy Cowan was sitting in the sin-bin for an intentional knock-down. Pek Cowan and Clint Newland also received yellow cards for a good-old-fashioned prop punch-up, while Highlanders wing Fetu'u Vainikolo was denied a try by a flying last-ditch tackle by David Pocock, and Force hooker Ben Whittaker's marginal dropped ball was picked up by the TMO at the other end at the stroke of half time.

The Highlanders came out firing after the break and crossed through Chris King and Stephen Setephano but the Force stayed in touch with O'Connor's try after yet another superb kick by No.10 David Hill, this time a dangerous grubber. Then Turner's introduction coincided with the Force's push over the advantage line and they racked up four tries in 20 minutes, before Vainikolo got his try on the hooter with an athletic finish.

The Bulls returned to the top of the Super 14 standings for now with their first ever win in Hamilton over the Chiefs, the 33-19 result denying the home side revenge for their hammering in last year's final.

It was a Bulls performance that was as cynical as it was clinical as the defending champions restricted the Chiefs to penalty shots by disrupting play near their own line and kicked their way into safe territory for much of the second half before striking with a late, game-breaking try to hooker Gary Botha that made the result safe.

A further try to Dewald Potgieter three minutes from time gave the Bulls a crucial bonus point following first half efforts from Gerhard van den Heever and Pierre Spies. Brendon Leonard crossed early for the Chiefs but the Bulls ensured all other points would have to come from the boot of Stephen Donald, who racked up four penalties.

Morne Steyn kicked 13 points for the visitors despite missing a number of simple kicks by any kicker's standards, but it was his basketball-style knock-down to inside runner van den Heever that got the Bulls off to a flying start in the 8th minute. Leonard's response came immediately after when Steyn clumsily failed to field a grubber near his line.

Bulls scrum-half Fourie de Preez rifled a pair of cutout passes to put the Bulls back on the front foot in a flowing first half, both of which created linebreaks. The latter landed on the chest of Spies, the fastest forward in the competition, and he gratefully dived over.

A string of Donald penalties either side of the break were the first back-to-back scores for one team and put the Chiefs in front as the Bulls disrupted any phases near their own line and came out with a new conservative kicking game. It worked to the extent that they stayed in touch with two strikes of their own and when du Preez decided it was time to run in the 67th minute, the hosts were caught unaware, allowing Botha to crash over soon after.


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