Weathering a dominant start from the Western Force, the Cheetahs were able to take Game 2 of the Toyota Challenge with a 27-12 win at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Bloemfontein dished up another afternoon of perfect weather for the second game of the South African tour before both sides head back to Western Australia for the final two matches.
The Force got off to a strong start as they were able to win a number of penalties to give them good field position within the first five minutes.
After a number of attempts at the line from the visitors, the Cheetahs were handed an early yellow card.
It wasn’t long until Sam Spink crashed over the line to get the Force’s first try underpinning an excellent start to the game.
Learning from Game 1, the Force opted to throw the ball wide and use their backs to break open the Cheetahs line.
After some exhilarating running rugby, the Force notched their second try of the afternoon through Bayley Kuenzle pushing the lead up to 12 points after 15 minutes.
The Cheetahs capitalized after the return of their sin-binned player and were able to catch the Force flat-footed sending over Daniel Maartens to get their first points.
The game saw emotions fly as both sides started to get into some push and shove fortunately no cards were shown.
Using his experience with the Aussie 7s side, Max Burey was electric, running around nearly the entire Cheetahs side to set up George Pullman under the posts which would have been the try of the game however disallowed due to a previous infringement.
Despite the Force holding off an extremely dangerous Cheetahs attack, the hosts went back to the maul as they were able to close out the half with a try from Marko Janse van Rensburg.
Burey was a key standout in the first half as his impact both with the boot and in hand was a clear dictator of the Force’s success in the first half.
The second half started as intense as the first as both sides traded possession through counter rucks on multiple occasions before Marcell Muller scored for the hosts after an impressive passage of play.
Jackson Pugh was sent to the bin with a yellow following the try due to foul play putting the Force down the 14 men.
Leaning into a more expansive game compared to their first clash, the Cheetahs were able to capitalize on the Force being a man down.
Showing great resolve, the Force were able to hold the home side off the line and go back on attack before Pugh’s return to the game.
Some discipline issues plagued the Force’s second half as Springbok legend Ruan Pienaar was able to extend his team’s lead to 10 points with a penalty kick.
Back-and-forth rugby ensued as both sides looked to gain territory through the kicking game – unable to capitalize and score.
An intercept from Raegan Oranje almost saw the Cheetahs strike again within the final 10 minutes however it was impressively run down by a valiant Force defense.
Despite some resilience from the Force defence, the Cheetahs handed the final blow on the siren through a try from Janus Venter to finish the game with a 15-point victory.
Tries: Maartens, Janse van Rensburg, Muller, Venter
Conversions: Lourens 2
Tries: Spink, Kuenzle