Super Rugby - Round 14
Reds lose to Cheetahs in Bloemfontein
May 19, 2013
The Cheetahs' Piet van Zyl dives to beat the tackle of Luke Morahan and score one of his two tries
© Getty Images
Queensland Reds have missed a prime chance to jump to the top of the Australian conference with a 27-13 Super Rugby loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Looking to leapfrog the Brumbies after the ACT side's loss to New South Wales, as well as keep their unbeaten record intact against overseas opponents, the Reds dominated possession in a high-tempo game but were frustrated throughout.
They had almost twice as much ball as the Cheetahs, and created more line breaks, but couldn't produce the vital finishing touches at Free State Stadium.
Cheetahs halfback Piet van Zyl scored two first-half tries and journeyman five-eighth Elgar Watts kicked five penalty goals in a 17-point haul while the home side's defence kept Queensland tryless until the 78th minute.
The Reds could rightly feel hard done by as they were denied by the television match official four times after crossing the line before reserve back Ben Lucas was finally given the nod in the dying moments.
But it was the scrambling Cheetahs defence, and their pilfering work at the breakdown, which expertly dug them out of jail time and time again.
The Reds dominated possession but failed to convert it on the scoreboard (video available in Australia only)%]
Queensland's bad luck started in the first 65 seconds when they appeared to start superbly with a try to winger Rod Davies, who pounced on a Quade Cooper kick to score.
But South African TMO Shaun Veldsman inexplicably denied it due to an inconsequential and accidental obstruction by Saia Faingaa as fullback Luke Morahan made a bust from inside his own half.
Two minutes later Van Zyl charged down a Will Genia box kick and easily pushed off Cooper to score in the corner for a 10-point turnaround.
Watts' conversion attempt was the only miss in his seven shots at goal on a superb run-on debut for the third-choice flyhalf.
Queensland played with vibrant enterprise and dangerous backs Morahan, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Digby Ioane all made first-half breaks that went unrewarded.
Springbok flanker Heinrich Brussow set Van Zyl on his way for a 40m run to the line, pushing off Greg Holmes before stepping past Ioane, for his second try in the 27th minute.
Watts kicked his third penalty to start the second half for a 21-6 lead before Cooper put Morahan over only for Veldsman to rule a marginal forward pass.
Two more penalties to Watts on the hour mark killed off the Reds, whose desperate play disintegrated in the final 20 minutes before Genia put Lucas over out wide.