The Toyota Cheetahs finally got their breakthrough victory in the Guinness Pro 14 on Saturday as they delivered a spirited performance against the Cardiff Blues in Bloemfontein for a 21-10 win, their first of the season.
Franco Smith’s charges were fired up after a two week break following a slow start to the season and they produced a determined display, in which speedster Sibahle Maxwane scored a brace and Shaun Venter crossed the tryline in the first half. Tian Schoeman converted all three tries, while the side limited the visitors a penalty goal for their efforts in the half.
The second half was less eventful, and it showed on the scoreboard as the only try scored was compliments of a charge-down by the Cardiff Blues with 14 minutes to play, which saw them go down 21-10. But the home team’s defence held firm in the face of a Welsh onslaught for a memorable victory.
In Port Elizabeth on Friday evening, the Isuzu Southern Kings produced an impressive first half showing against 2018 Guinness PRO14 finalists, the Scarlets, and entered the break 20-15 up thanks to back-to-back tries by Masixole Banda and Yaw Penxe, and two penalty goals by Banda.
The Scarlets, in turn, barged over the tryline twice from rolling mauls in the second quarter to add to an earlier penalty goal, which kept them in striking range of the hosts on the scoreboard. The Welshman struck first after the break as Ioan Nicholas scored their third try, but the Isuzu Southern Kings hit back with back-to-back tries by Harlon Klaasen and Bjorn Basson within six minutes to stretch their lead.
Their hopes of closing out the match for a win, however, were dashed as the visitors forced their way through the defence three times in the last quarter to come away with a morale-boosting 41-34 victory.
In the other matches, Zebre defeated Edinburgh 34-16 in Parma, Ospreys pipped Connacht 22-17 in Bridgend, Ulster outplayed the Dragons 36-18 in Belfast, Benetton went down 31-3 against Leinster in Treviso and Munster ground out a 25-24 victory against the Glasgow Warriors in Limerick.
Guinness PRO 14 Round 7 results and scorers (click on the hyperlink for the full scoresheet):
Isuzu Southern Kings 34 (20) Scarlets 41 (15)
Isuzu Southern Kings – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Harlon Klaasen, Yaw Penxe, Masixole Banda. Conversions: Masixole Banda (4). Penalty goals: Masixole Banda (2).
Scarlets – Tries: Dafydd Hughes , Werner Kruger, Will Boyde, Ioan Nicholas, Taylor Davies, Kieran Hardy. Conversions: Dan Jones (4). Penalty goal: Dan Jones.
Toyota Cheetahs 21 (21) Cardiff Blues 10 (3)
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Shaun Venter, Sibahle Maxwane (2). Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3).
Cardiff Blues – Try: Samu Manoa. Conversion: Steve Shingler. Penalty goal: Steve Shingler.