Planet Rugby

Waratahs bury tired Cheetahs

03rd April 2010 08:59

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Horne try v Cheetahs

Rob Horne celebrates his opening try

The Waratahs marched to a comfortable 40-17 win over the Cheetahs on Saturday in weather as ugly as you could wish for.

Driving rain made the ground heavy underfoot and made for a slog of a game, which was a shame for the home side who looked in form and ready to run throughout.

The Cheetahs looked as fatigued as you'd expect from the long journey across from South Africa and with a nasty dose of winter to contend with as well as a fired-up home side, the will to succeed got weaker quickly and visibly.

The Waratahs, who enjoyed well over 60 percent of possession and territory, went into the break 23-3 to the good.

Daniel Halangahu ensured the early superiority was rewarded by knocking over two early penalties for a 6-0 lead.

The heavy ground made it hard to open up the game properly but eventually the pressure told, with Rob Horne slicing through the Cheetahs back-line on an angle for the opening score under the posts.

Halangahu kicked his third goal, cancelled out by Naas Olivier's sweetly-struck penalty from wide out for the Cheetahs.

Right on the stroke of half-time, the 'Tahs extended their lead to 20, moving the ball right then left before a series of rucks near the Cheetahs' line culminated in Benn Robinson burrowing over for his side's second, with Halangahu converting.

In a pitchside TV interview, coach Chris Hickey said there had been no talk of the bonus point and an intention merely to ensure the win first.

Both were achieved within six minutes of the second half starting again, with Al Baxter emulating Robinson and burrowing over for his first-ever Super 14 try in his 100th match. Two minutes later, Kurtley Beale picked off a stray pass from a ruck and raced home - with a little help from a damp pitch that allowed him to slide home from 5m out.

Halangahu converted neither score but at 33-3, the outcome of the match was way beyond doubt.

The home side removed some big guns from the pitch early, no doubt with an eye on next week's clash with the Crusaders, but it made little difference. The rain continued to pour and the home side continued to dominate.

The Cheetahs went closest near the hour mark with a series of rucks, Hendro Scholtz was probably the one who was closest to the line. But Devon Raubenheimer took the ball through the close phase one time too many and found himself penalised.

Drew Mitchell had a good break but ended up offloading to an opponent and Berrick Barnes' chip and chase to a corner was won by Hennie Daniller. The rain continued to bucket down.

Finally the Cheetahs did manage to muster one more effort near the line which ended in a try for WP Nel after some appalling communication between the referee and the TMO which had everybody standing cold and miserable in the wet.

At least three times the referee asked if it was a try and each time the TMO absolutely refused to answer a yes or no question with either one-word answer, instead choosing to say 'the ball was grounded prior to the line and then promoted to the line'. In the end it was left to touch-judge James Leckie to nod his head and we were all able to get on with it.

Not that there was much to get on with as the rain came down so thick it was hard to see across the ground in the lights. Josh Holmes cantered in for the Waratahs' fifth with a minute remaining, with Corne Uys replying a minute later. That was that.

Man of the match: Hard to pick on a day where it was grind and guts. But a sentimental nod to Al Baxter for his first try - an epic worth waiting for (or so he'll say).

The scorers:

For the Waratahs:
Tries: Horne, Robinson, Baxter, Beale, Holmes
Cons: Halangahu 2, Barnes
Pens: Halangahu 3

For the Cheetahs:
Try: Nel, Uys
Cons: Olivier 2
Pen: Olivier

Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm (captain), 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 Locky McCaffrey, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Tom Carter, 22 Sosene Anesi.

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Danwel Demas, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Barend Pieterse, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Walti Vermeulen, 4 Nico Breedt, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Wian du Preez .
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Davon Raubenheimer, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Corné Uys, 22 Riaan Viljoen.

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)

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