If tries were a measure of the quality of a match, the Cheetahs' 35-34 victory over the 'Tahs would be a classic – but they're not.
If the number of tries were the measure of the quality of a match, the Cheetahs' 35-34 win over the Waratahs would be a classic. Unfortunately, they're not.
While both sides showed plenty of attacking will, they also demonstrated a chronic lack of execution of basic skills and were woeful in the tackle stakes.
The first half in particular demonstrated the best and worst of the play, with seven tries and 52 points scored but this came at the cost of 23 missed tackles, with the hosts guilty of letting a massive eighteen slip through their grasp.
The Waratahs opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Dave Dennis dived over and got a hand to a loose ball that the Cheetahs had allowed to wriggle loose over their goal-line. It was a sign of the times.
To say that there was no quality would be harsh on both sides, they were not short of effort and many of the five-pointers came from some quality attacking play.
Cheetahs scrum-half Piet van Zyl was the man to profit from a lovely line-out move that brought Ashley Johnson crashing into the line, the big number eight handing the ball off to his team-mate to dive over for their opening score.
Adam Ashley-Cooper and Willie le Roux both made good use of the chip and chase, with Rob Horne the beneficiary of Ashley-Cooper's industry and Le Roux doing so for his second try.
Having gone into the break ten points down, it was the hosts who had the better of the third quarter, notching up two converted tries in the face of a solitary penalty from Waratahs scrum-half Brendan McKibbin.
But, having moved ahead by a point, the two teams showed all the signs of outfits who have come out on the wrong side of close games in the past.
The Cheetahs lost any rhythm that had been built up and kicked aimlessly for much of the final twenty minutes. The 'Tahs were unable to capitalise though.
Berrick Barnes had a penalty from just inside the Cheetahs' half on the angle to take the lead with three minutes to go but his effort was short. The fly-half should have had one more chance to win it in the dying minutes but was denied it. With the Waratahs having carried the ball into the opposing half, just short of the 22 they decided to pick and go one too many times instead of giving the ball to Barnes to attempt a drop. The result was a held up maul and a get out of jail free card for the hosts.
Tries: van Zyl, le Roux 2, Adriaan Strauss, Nel
Cons: Smit 4, S Ebersohn
Tries: Dennis, S Timani 2, Horne
Cons: McKibbin 4
Pens: McKibbin 2
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rocco Jansen, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Andries Ferreira, 4 Izak van der Westhuizen, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (capt), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Philip Snyman.
Waratahs: 15 Bernard Foley, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 David Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson (capt).
Replacements: 16 John Ulugia, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Richard Stanford, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Tom Carter.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)