Sunwolves "embarrassing" in Cheetahs loss

Super Rugby
by AFP

Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett said the Japanese Sunwolves were "embarrassing" Super Rugby after they suffered a 92-17 mauling from the South African Central Cheetahs in Bloemfontein Friday.

Cheetahs scored 14 tries at Free State Stadium to achieve the biggest triumph in the competition this season, easily surpassing the 53-10 victory of Waikato Chiefs over Western Force. 

Seven-time champions Canterbury Crusaders hold the record for the most points in a Super Rugby match -- 96 against the New South Wales Waratahs in 2002 in Christchurch.

The biggest winning margin was achieved by the South African Northern Bulls when they crushed Queensland Reds 92-3 in Pretoria nine seasons ago. 

Scoring became so easy for Cheetahs that winger Sergeal Petersen crossed the try-line, then waited for No. 8 Paul Schoeman to run forward, dot down and complete a hat-trick.

Petersen also scored three tries for a side that averaged just 2.5 tries per game in six previous Super Rugby matches this season and won just once.

SuperSport TV analyst Mallett, who took South Africa to third place at the 1999 Rugby World Cup in England, said the match was not good for Super Rugby or the Tokyo-based newcomers.

"It was embarrassing," he told viewers. "Imagine what the scoreline could have been if the Sunwolves were playing one of the top New Zealand teams.

"The Sunwolves lost heart and belief and gave up long before the final whistle. This match was not a proper reflection of Super Rugby.

"They had no defensive structures and when they did get the ball, repeatedly committed handling errors."

Fellow analyst and former Springboks fly-half Naas Botha was equally critical of the Sunwolves as they suffered a seventh consecutive loss in their debut season, including four at home.

"There was no commitment, no sharpness, and they have a lot of tough fixtures ahead. Any team could have shone against them tonight."

The match completed a three-match tour of South Africa for the Japanese franchise, who lost 33-28 to Southern Kings and 46-19 to Western Stormers.

Cheetahs skipper and centre Francois Venter said: "This was a special effort and I am proud of the boys. Our scrummaging was great and it gave us lots of quick ball."

Stunned Sunwolves skipper and hooker Shota Horie said the defeat was particularly depressing as they wanted to lift the spirits of their countrymen after a series of earthquakes hit Japan.

A powerful 'quake hit the south of the country early Saturday, a day after a strong tremor in the same area killed nine people, injured hundreds and toppled buildings.

"We wanted to play good rugby, to be courageous, to raise the morale of our people in the aftermath of the earthquakes, but it was not to be.

"It is a difficult result to accept. We host the Argentine Jaguares in Tokyo next weekend and we must work much harder and rebuild our confidence."

Cheetahs scored seven tries in each half and led 45-3 at half-time after falling behind in the fourth minute when Samoa fly-half Tusi Pisi slotted a penalty.

Sunwolves applied pressure for a brief second half period, when trailing 59-3, and New Zealander Derek Carpenter and Tongan Mifiposeti Paea scored tries that Pisi converted.

Petersen and Schoeman scored three tries each for Cheetahs and Torsten van Jaarsveld, Francois Venter, Uzair Cassiem, Raymond Rhule, Shaun Venter, Hilton Lobberts, Clayton Blommetjies and Jacques du Toit one each.

Fly-half Niel Marais kicked eight conversions and his replacement, Fred Zeilinga, three.