Allianz Stadium, Sydney
HSBC Waratahs 26 - 27 Cheetahs
Super Rugby Round 5
After turning in a much improved first half performance, the HSBC Waratahs were forced to settle for a single point after recording a disappointing one-point loss to a resurgent Cheetahs side.
Despite conceding an early lead and losing key playmaker Berrick Barnes to a hand injury, the home side strung together a series of clinical attacking raids to take a lead into half time for the first time this season. But poor execution in the dying stages of the match proved the difference, with Dave Dennis’s men left missing several crucial opportunities in the narrow defeat.
Head Coach Michael Cheika lamented his team’s inability to execute at key moments, saying, “It was very frustrating because it’s not a game where we laid down or we didn’t work hard – because we actually worked hard – but we made some poor errors of judgment at poor times and they were able to capitalise.”
Dennis agreed, admitting his side’s error rate proved the difference in the match. “Those small errors hurt us, we kicked some balls away and I think that was consistent throughout the whole game.
“We gave ourselves opportunities to win it or score points and those small errors let us down.”
Cheika also conceded the team would need to improve the mental components of their play, looking ahead to the game next Sunday against the Auckland Blues.
“We’ve talked a fair bit around the self belief of the team after a few hard years and that’s a battle we’ll have to get through. We’ve got to have the resolve to say we’re going to fight our way out of this and become better.”
After conceding a try in the opening minute, the home side kept the deficit down with a Brendan McKibbin penalty on four minutes, narrowing the gap to one point with a second three-pointer 10 minutes later.
But the Cheetahs hit back when winger Raymond Rhule slid through the defence to touch down in the left hand corner, the conversion restoring the lead to 14-6 as the first quarter ticked by.
A well executed lineout to Dennis allowed McKibbin to unleash impressive newcomer Peter Betham on the Cheetahs’ 22m line, with the barnstorming winger powering through three Cheetahs defenders to dot down under the posts. McKibbin’s conversion reduced the margin to a point on the 27 minute mark.
Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen slotted his first penalty of the night before an enterprising passage of play from the home side, highlighted by man-of-the-match Paddy Ryan’s second line break of the night, was rewarded with a centre field scrum on the Cheetahs 5m line.
Sustained pressure on the Cheetahs line was eventually rewarded, with centre Adam Ashley-Cooper sliding through two Cheetahs defenders to roll across the line near the posts. McKibbin’s successful conversion sent the home side in with a half time lead for the first time this season.
The next 10 minutes saw a number of replacements take the field but only three points hit the scoreboard, with a second Goosen penalty levelling the scores at 20-all after 50 minutes.
Despite reversing the stats and dominating possession, the home side could only manage a McKibbin penalty, edging them ahead 23-20, before a second try from Rhule on the 70 minute mark again forced Dennis’s men to play catch up leading into the final exchanges. Trailing by four, the home side set up a climactic finish after McKibbin clawed back three points courtesy of a late penalty.
A frenetic five minutes ensued, as the HSBC Waratahs were forced to attack their way out of their own half to steal a win. In the face of sustained pressure, the Cheetahs defence held firm and the visitors were rewarded with their second successive victory on foreign soil.
The team now host the Blues at Allianz Stadium next Sunday, March 24.
Cheetahs 27 (tries: Rhule 2, Ebersohn cons: Goosen 3; pens: Goosen 2) defeated HSBC Waratahs 26 (tries: Betham, Ashley-Cooper pens: McKibbin 4; cons: McKibbin 2)
Half-time: HSBC Waratahs 20 – 17 Cheetahs
HSBC Waratahs: 1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood), 2. John Ulugia (Eastern Suburbs), 3. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University), 4. Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts), 5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts), 6. Dave Dennis (Sydney University, captain), 7. Michael Hooper (Manly), 8. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University), 9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs), 10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University), 11. Peter Betham (Sydney University), 12. Berrick Barnes (Sydney University), 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs), 14. Lachie Turner (Eastwood), 15. Israel Folau (Sydney University)
Replacements: 16. Luke Holmes (Warringah), 17. Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University), 18. Mitchell Chapman (Eastern Suburbs), 19. Lopeti Timani (Southern Districts), 20. Matt Lucas (Manly), 21. Ben Volavola (Southern Districts), 22. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
Cheetahs: 1. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Adriaan Strauss (Captain), 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 4. Lodewyk de Jager, 5. Francois Uys, 6. Frans Viljoen, 7. Pieter Labuschange, 8. Philip van der Walt, 9. Sarel Pretorius, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Raymond Rhule, 12. Robert Ebersohn, 13. Johann Sadie, 14. Willie le Roux, 15. Hennie Daniller.
Replacements: 16. Ryno Barnes, 17. Coenie Oosthuizen, 18. Landman Ligtoring, 19. Heinrich Brussow, 20. Piet van Zyl, 21. Riaan Smith, 22. Ryno Benjamin
Yellow cards: None
Referee: Garratt Williamson
Man of the Match: Paddy Ryan
Berrick Barnes will make his first appearance of the Super Rugby season on Friday when the HSBC Waratahs host the Cheetahs at Allianz Stadium.
Also returning to the starting XV is Pat McCutcheon, who takes over at No. 8 in place of the injured Wycliff Palu, allowing captain Dave Dennis to revert his preferred position on the blindside flank.Out wide, a new wing combination sees Wallaby Lachie Turner elevated from the bench to partner up with newcomer Peter Betham.
A stand out in last season’s ITM Cup, Betham returns from a trial match ankle injury to take over from Drew Mitchell. Fullback Ben Volavola reverts to the bench in place of Israel Folau, who shifts back into the 15 jersey.In the only remaining changes to the pack, hooker John Ulugia takes over from the injured Tatafu Polota-Nau, whilst Paddy Ryan gets a start at tight-head.
On the bench, Cheika has opted for a 4-3 forwards-backs split, with Rob Horne included in a match day 22 for the first time after returning from a hamstring injury sustained in a pre-season trial.
The game kicks off at 7.40pm this Friday, March 13. Themed as Ladies Night, the matchday charity partner is the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF), a charity that supports national ovarian cancer research programs, with a focus on understanding the causes of ovarian cancer, its early detection and improving patient survival.
HSBC Waratahs team to play the Cheetahs
Friday March 15, 2013
Allianz Stadium (kick off 7.40pm)
1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
2. John Ulugia (Eastern Suburbs)
3. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University)
4. Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts)
5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts)
6. Dave Dennis (Sydney University, captain)
7. Michael Hooper (Manly)
8. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University)
9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs)
10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)
11. Peter Betham (Sydney University)
12. Berrick Barnes (Sydney University)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs)
14. Lachie Turner (Eastwood)
15. Israel Folau (Sydney University)
16. Luke Holmes (Warringah)
17. Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University)
18. Mitchell Chapman (Eastern Suburbs)
19. Lopeti Timani (Southern Districts)
20. Matt Lucas (Manly)
21. Ben Volavola (Southern Districts)
22. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)