The Cheetahs condemned the Sharks to their second successive defeat this Super 14 season thanks to a 25-20 victory on Friday.
The Cheetahs condemned the Sharks to their second successive defeat this Super 14 season thanks to a 25-20 victory in Durban on Friday.
Both franchises were looking to break their 2010 duck following opening defeats to the Chiefs and Bulls respectively. But for the Sharks, there was arguably a lot more resting on this fixture after failing to impress right from pre-season, with limited offensive ideas on show once again.
And that haphazard trend continued with dropped balls and skew line-outs adding to their problems before a mini turnaround after the break. It was a lift that the small amount of supporters paying the entrance fee were desperately hoping for.
But they were not to be departing a happy bunch as the hefty boot of Riaan Viljoen, who had earlier scored a memorable try, and Naas Olivier's late show ultimately proved the difference.
Disappointing goal-kicking from the usually reliable Rory Kockott – the scrum-half missed five of his 10 kicks at goal – also proved decisive at the end with the Sharks suffering a second-successive loss.
It was unbelievably the Cheetahs' first away win since 2007 and they were fully deserving of the success as the Sharks showed little for their possession and territorial dominance, which was up at 80 per cent at one point in the second-half.
The visitors had an excellent chance to draw first blood six minutes in when Alistair Hargreaves played the ball illegally on the ground, but Olivier pulled his effort across goal.
Kockott responded for the hosts with a fine 55-metre that sailed through comfortably, but then hooked his second attempt wide.
Olivier made amends for his earlier miss on the 20-minute mark levelling the scores up at 3-3 after the Sharks failed to roll away in the tackle.
A magic moment from Viljoen then helped put his side ahead.
After fielding an up-and-under in his own 22, the Cheetahs full-back ghosted through almost the entire home team, breaking two tackles along the way and then selling a dummy to Ruan Pienaar, before running in under the post – Olivier adding the extras
Kockott, who was imperious with his kicking in the opening game last week, then missed another straightforward kick to cut back the lead, but made amends with a brace of penalties on the stroke of half-time to see his side into the break 10-9 down.
There was a referee replacement during the interval with Jonathan Kaplan replaced by Pro Legoete due to a stomach bug.
And one of the first tasks for the new official was to award the Sharks a try.
It came three minutes after the restart when the ball was worked through the phases and eventually spread wide to number eight Ryan Kankowski, who was too strong for the challenge of Danwel Demas, and went over in the corner.
Another kick at goal was missed by Kockott and the Cheetahs hit back with Olivier's second penalty to move to within a point of the hosts.
Two more penalties from Viljoen then helped his side to a five point lead with 20 minutes to play.
Plumtree's men tried desperately to claw their way back, but did not help themselves with several handling errors.
Kockott gave them some hope with another penalty, but Olivier's late 30-metre drop-goal followed by a penalty ensured victory for Naka Drotske's team.
Man-of-the-match: Ryan Kankowski was impressive with ball in-hand but should have let it go once in a while which means that Naas Olivier takes the accolade for his late drop-goal and penalty putting the Cheetahs out of reach. Maturity that will impress Naka Drotske.
Moment of the match: Nothing had caught the eye until minute 24 when full-back Riaan Viljoen claimed Stefan Terblanche's long kick downfield. The Griquas man showed speed, leg power and capped it off with a nice dummy that saw him go over untouched from 65 metres.
Villain-of-the-match: No one deserving of this award.
For the Sharks:
Pen: Kockott 5
For the Cheetahs:
Pen: Olivier 3, Viljeon 2
Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Adrian Jacobs, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Willem Alberts, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Monty Dumond, 22 Andries Strauss.
Cheetahs: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Danwel Demas, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Frans Viljoen, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Nico Breedt, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Hennie Daniller.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Pro Legoete (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)