Posted on Thursday, 13 Apr 2019
The Toyota Cheetahs, inspired by a composed performance by flyhalf Tian Schoeman, delivered a strong second-half performance against the Dragons in Bloemfontein on Saturday for a 38-13 bonus-point win, which nudged them back to winning ways.
Both teams battled to find their rhythm in the first half as penalties conceded and mistakes resulted in a scrappy opening 40 minutes, in which only one try was scored - and that was by Toyota Cheetahs’ flanker Henco Venter in the 39th minute.
The Free Staters dominated possession and territory before the break, and they worked their way within striking distance of the Dragons’ tryline on several occasions, but they struggled to come away with points. That said, the Dragons showed fantastic commitment on defence, while they did well to counter the hosts’ tactical kicking early on.
With penalties being the order of the half, the only points scored in the first 38 minutes were a penalty goal apiece by Schoeman and Aaron Wainwright. But Venter made a breakthrough for the hosts a minute before the break from a powerful pick-and-go, which pushed the Toyota Cheetahs 10-3 ahead.
The Dragons cancelled that out four minutes after play resumed as Taine Basham crashed over after a number of phases, and the successful conversion allowed them to level the scores at 10-10.
Franco Smith’s charges had a golden opportunity to force their way back into the lead minutes later, but there was more frustration for the men in orange as they lost the ball over the tryline and then saw Aranos Coetzee being sin-binned for repeated infringements in the scrums.
The Dragons took advantage of this to slot over a penalty goal, which pushed them into the lead for the first time, but this was short-lived as Shaun Venter caught the defence off-guard with a show-and-go from a maul to force his way over the chalk despite the team being a player short.
Schoeman added the team’s third try with seven minutes to play as he spotted a gap in the defence metres from the tryline and danced his way through to alleviate the pressure for a 24-13 lead.
This sparked more exciting play by the hosts as Louis Fouche earned the bonus point try before Rabz Maxwane dashed through from an intercept for his 14th try of the season and a 38-13 victory for the team.
The match was particularly rewarding for Schoeman whose try, five conversions and penalty goal earned him a rewarding 18 points.
Toyota Cheetahs 38 (10) - Tries: Henco Venter, Shaun Venter, Tian Schoeman, Louis Fouche, Rabz Maxwane. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (5). Penalty Goal: Tian Schoeman.
Dragons 13 (3) - Try: Taine Basham. Conversion: Josh Lewis. Penalty Goals: Aaron Wainwright, Josh Lewis.