Cheetahs 39-39 Ulster
It was honours even at Free State Stadium as the Cheetahs and Ulster could not be separated in a 78-point thriller to start the PRO14 round.
The Cheetahs came out of the blocks firing when flanker Gerhard Olivier crossed on two minutes, with Tian Schoeman adding the conversion.
However, Ulster hit back three minutes later as scrum-half Dave Shanahan collected an offload from centre Darren Cave for the levelling try.
Schoeman nudged the hosts into a 10-7 lead on the 20-minute mark off the tee but it was then deja vu for the visitors when Cave set up Shanahan on 22 minutes. That converted score moved Ulster into a 14-10 lead, but William Small-Smith responded for 17-14 at the break.
Ulster levelled matters six minutes into the second-half thanks to pivot Billy Burns’ successful penalty, but they were behind again on 53 minutes when hooker Joseph Dweba crossed shortly after Ulster lock Alan O’Connor was sin-binned. Burns did slot three points in response.
The next score was going to be key and it went the way of Cheetahs replacement hooker Jacques du Toit, whose converted try made it 29-20.
But the cushion was short-lived when Ulster hit back as a slick move between Angus Kernohan and Stuart McCloskey sent over Jonny Stewart.
It was now 29-25 to the hosts with nine minutes to play with the drama continuing when an Ulster penalty try put them in front before the Cheetahs hit back through wing Rabz Maxwane, with Louis Fouche’s conversion and penalty thereafter pushing them into a 39-32 buffer.
But there was still late drama to come when Henry Speight went over in the dying embers, with Burns’ extras tying things up in Bloemfontein.
Tries: Olivier, Small-Smith, Dweba, Du Toit, Maxwane
Cons: Schoeman 3, Fouche
Pens: Schoeman, Fouche
Tries: Shanahan 2, Stewart, Penalty try, Speight
Cons: Burns 3
Pens: Burns 2
Yellow Card: O’Connor
Cheetahs: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Günther Janse van Vuuren, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Stephan Malan, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Ryno Eksteen
Ulster: 15 Will Addison, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Angus Kernohan, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Dave Shanahan, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matt Rea, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Eric O’Sullivan
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Nick Timoney, 21 Jonny Stewart, 22 Angus Curtis, 23 Peter Nelson
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Lloyd Linton (Scotland), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)
Cardiff Blues 37-13 Munster
Cardiff Blues claimed their first win of the PRO14 campaign after they picked up a bonus-point 37-13 victory over Munster at the Arms Park.
It was a positive half from the Blues as they went into the interval leading 14-13 thanks to tries from Nick Williams and Tomos Williams.
Number eight Williams opened the scoring on seven minutes after he finished off a solid carry from centre Willis Halaholo to make it 7-0.
But within eight minutes of that score Munster were 10-7 in front at Cardiff Arms Park thanks to two Andrew Conway crossings, the second coming after good work from Joey Carbery, who was impressing at fly-half for the visitors. It seems he will flourish at his new province.
If Carbery was starring for Munster, it was outside centre Halaholo who was in great form for Cardiff as his line bust led to scrum-half Williams making it 14-10 with a converted try. Carbery did land a penalty on 24 minutes to make it 14-13 which was how it remained until the break.
The Blues crucially scored first after the turnaround through the in-form Halaholo and with Gareth Anscombe’s extras they were 21-13 ahead. That became 24-13 seven minutes later as the full-back slotted a penalty which meant Munster were needing a strong final quarter in Wales.
They did push hard for the next score but solid defence resulted in a reprieve for the Blues, who made it 27-13 thanks to Anscombe’s boot.
Wales international Anscombe further extended the lead to 17 points with his third penalty of the night, which all but sealed the four points.
With that healthy cushion, the Blues were now pushing for a try bonus-point and it arrived two minutes from time via scrum-half Williams.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: N Williams, T Williams 2, Halaholo
Cons: Anscombe 4
Pens: Anscombe 3
Tries: Conway 2
Cardiff Blues: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 George Earle, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Matthew Morgan
Munster: 15 JJ Hanrahan, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Chris Cloete, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 James Cronin
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Tommy O’Donnell, 21 Jack Stafford, 22 Bill Johnston, 23 Shane Daly
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rhys Thomas (Wales), Gareth John (Wales)
Television match official: Ian Davies (Wales)