Form side of the tournament thus far the Chiefs hosted the Cheetahs in the first match on Saturday. We predicted that the Chiefs would win and win big. And they did, although it turned out to be a tougher assignment for the first 60 minutes than most Chiefs’ fans would have expected.
Opening 20 7.75/10:
The match began at a remarkably high pace featuring excellent control of possession by the Chiefs and effective, physical counter-defending by the Cheetahs. Both sides took turns spreading the ball wide with silky passing and great supporting play. In the 9th minute the Cheetahs were awarded with a penalty for stretching the defence of the Chiefs. Johan Goosen however missed the regulation attempt at goal. The Cheetahs kept the pressure on building several phases each time they earned ball in hand, with momentum now firmly in shifting their favour.
After a 10 minute passage of dominance by the Cheetahs Johan Goosen opened scoring as the Chiefs were pinged for hands in the ruck whilst simultaneously being caught off-sides. The Cheetahs were found to be off-sides on receiving the restart. Gareth Anscombe took aim and the honours were even, 3 – 3. The home side flattered by the score at this stage of play.
Second 20 7.5/10:
Entering the second stanza momentum began to shift back towards the home side, in part due to excellent defending. This dominance paid off after several phases on attack as Liam Messam picked up from a ruck, 5 meters out. and was driven over the line line by Ben Afeaki and Fritz Lee. The Cheetahs were helpless to stop such a piercing drive.Reward for a rare visit into the Cheetahs 22. Anscombe was on target yet again. 10 – 3 due to excellent conversion of opportunities, the sign of a class side.
Into the final 10 minutes of the half, having done two thirds of the attacking to this point, Johan Goosen was gifted a shot at goal as the Chiefs were caught infringing at the breakdown. Again he missed the regulation attempt. Moments before half-time Johan Goosen was given another shot at goal, earned through some excellent counter-rucking by the Cheetahs. He didn’t have the distance on this final attempt of the half. Half time 10 – 3 with the Cheetahs having comfortably dominated play (79% of territory) only to be behind due to poor goal kicking and some sideways attacking which failed to open-up the Chiefs excellent defensive line.
Third 20 7.25/10:
In a frantic start to the half the Cheetahs were caught off-guard as sloppy defending allowing a grubber to be dotted down by prop Ben Afeaki. The Chiefs now leading by 17 – 3. In this stanza, for the first time in the match, possession and territory became even as the Cheetahs’ intensity began to wane. After 13 minutes into the half the Cheetahs won a kick-able penalty as sub Tanerau Latimer failed to release in the tackle. The Cheetahs went for the corner but lost the lineout only for the Chiefs to work the ball up the length of the field before Michael Fitzgerald dropped a prefect pass which certainly would have resulted in a Chiefs’ score due to the massive overlap which they had fashioned. One of their first wasted opportunities of the match 58 minutes in.
Final 20 8.25/10:
In the best passage of play of the match the Chiefs strung together some phenomenal passes to work their way up to the Cheetahs’ goal line. Phases later a dummy by Aaron Cruden put Asaeli Tikoirotuma through and under the posts for a 24 – 3 lead. Momentum started to go strongly in the Chiefs favour for the first time in the match as the Cheetahs began to tire. With this the Chiefs found an extra gear and showed just how dangerous they can be on attack as they ripped open the Cheetahs’ defensive line time and again. Gareth Anscombe finished off a well worked team try with Aaron Cruden’s class demonstrated several times in the high-paced build-up to the score. 31 – 3. The flood-gates rushed open with the Cheetahs now reeling on defence as the Chiefs meticulously worked their way up to the try line before sub Rhys Marshall picked and drove to finish the move for another score. 38 – 3. The onslaught continued as the Chiefs won a lineout in the corner before Ben Tameifuna busted through to make the score 45 – 3.
The final score of 45 – 3 not a fair reflection of play but a stern warning to any side that fails to capitalize from attacking inopportuneness against this Chiefs side which will always rally back.