Chiefs perform escape act against Cheetahs
April 5, 2014
The Chiefs fought back from a 24-point deficit to draw with the Cheetahs (video available in Australia only)
The Chiefs conducted their second South African Super Rugby escape act in the space of a week to draw 43-43 with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. In a game baring remarkable similarities to last weekend's 34-34 draw with the Bulls, the Chiefs once again launched an enormous comeback - from 24 points down - and levelled after the final hooter.
This time it was wing Tim Nanai-Williams who scored their sixth and final try, dancing past two defenders in the 82nd minute to score under the crossbar. Five-eighth Aaron Cruden, as he did at Pretoria last week, slotted the conversion to once again earn his team three competition points.
It means the Chiefs end their three-match tour winless, including a loss to the Western Force in Perth, but the six points secured in South Africa could prove important as they pursue a third successive Super Rugby title.
The Cheetahs, winless in their previous six games, looked set to end their drought when leading 34-10 at half-time. Inspired by the running of halfback Sarel Pretorius, who scored two tries, they played with speed and power which defied their last placing. The other tries went to wing Rayno Benjamin and flanker Boom Prinsloo.
The Chiefs' only first-half try was scored by scrum-half Augustine Pulu, who grabbed his second in the 52nd minute to spark a five-try surge in the last half-hour. Keeping the ball in hand and offloading with great skill, the Cheetahs couldn't halt the Chiefs' waves of attacks which created two tries each to wings Asaeli Tikoirotuma and Nanai-Williams. Cheetahs five-eighth Johan Goosen scored his team's only points in the second half through three penalties. Goosen kicked 23 points in a nine from 11 return.
SANZAR issued Tikoirotuma with an off-field yellow card for a stamping offence in the 47th minute.
The Chiefs have never lost in four games against the Cheetahs in South Africa. They remain New Zealand conference leaders ahead of a home game against the Melbourne Rebels in Hamilton on Saturday. The Cheetahs will face the Crusaders in Bloemfontein.