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The CA Technologies Brumbies disappointing season continued on Friday night, going down to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein 47-36.
The ACT based team gave the South Africans too big a head start and were again too ill disciplined falling behind 25-0 in the first quarter of the game.
Defence was also a big problem for the CA Technologies Brumbies, slipping off tackles allowing the Cheetahs to make breaks all over Vodacom Park.
Disappointingly for the CA Technologies Brumbies, they clawed back into the contest just before half time – at one stage trailing by just four points – but failed to deliver a killer blow and claim a win on the High Veldt.
Another blow for the CA Technologies Brumbies was the loss of both locks Peter Kimlin and Mitchell Chapman – the latter being on his return from a six week layoff due to a facial injury.
While both Kimlin and Chapman have been cleared of breaks to their arms, further tests will be needed in the coming days to determine the damage.
Scoring got underway in just the third minute when Cheetahs fullback Riaan Viljoen booted a monster field goal from more than 60 meters out. If it wasn’t a record distance then it must have been very close as Viljoen’s boot sent the ball flying across the stadium and through the posts.
The fullback was in red-hot form with the boot in warm ups, place kicking one shot from nearly 65 meters out.
The Cheetahs surged ahead with three quick tries to props Coenie Oosthuizen and WP Nel and scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius. The home team were looking completely in control, starving the ACT based team of possession and adapting quickly to the comfort of high altitude.
With Nel’s try successfully converted and another long range field goal to Viljoel, the CA Technologies Brumbies were already staring at a 25-point deficit, with just over a quarter of the match having been played.
Finally earning some much needed possession, the CA Technologies Brumbies crossed the line through winger Francis Fainifo – the speedster finding himself on the end of a fast break and finishing though traffic.
But the mini-revival was short lived with Pretorius again finding space to push the Cheetahs lead back to 25 points – 32-7 with 13 minutes to go until half time.
The CA Technologies Brumbies hit back late in the first half – Ben Alexander extending his all-time try-scoring record over the Cheetahs to three, while Michael Hooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper also bagged five pointers.
Giteau converted two of the three tries – the score looking a little more respectable at 32-26, Cheetahs lead going into half time.
The Cheetahs were able to move further into the lead on return to the second half, with three penalty goals to flyhalf Sias Ebersohm, moving the Free State team to a 41-26 point lead.
Ebersohm’s third penalty came as Christian Lealiifano was dealt a tough blow, sent to the sheds with a yellow card for what appeared to be a fairly soft tackle.
Replacing Pat Phibbs at half time, Josh Valentine was looking to make an immediate impact, looking for space through the ruck and making good ground over the advantage line.
This paid off when Valentine found himself in open space with speedster Robbie Coleman on his outside, the Prince pacing away to score his second-career try.
Another penalty goal to Giteau kept the CA Technologies Brumbies in the match – but a victory wasn’t to be.
Ebersohm’s boot was again the difference, punishing the CA Technologies Brumbies first in their own 22, then on half way with another penalty and stretching the home side’s lead back out to 11 points – 47-36.
One man who left the field smiling was Jono Owen making his Super Rugby debut on the High Veldt.
The CA Technologies Brumbies now head to Durban to face the Sharks on Saturday.
CHEETAHS 47 (Sarel Pretorius 2, WP Nel, Coenraad Oosthuizen tries; Sias Ebersohn 3 cons; 5 pens Riaan Viljoen 2 drop goals) bt CA TECHNOLOGIES BRUMBIES 36 (Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Robbie Coleman, Francis Fainifo, Michael Hooper tries Matt Giteau 4 cons; pen) at Vodacom Park. Referee: Marius Jonker.
CA Technologies Brumbies
1. Ben Alexander
2. Stephen Moore (replaced by Huia Edmonds)
3. Dan Palmer (replaced by Jono Owen)
4. Peter Kimlin (Replaced by Ben Hand)
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Mitchell Chapman (replaced by Julian Salvi)
7. Michael Hooper
8. Colby Faingaa
9. Patrick Phibbs (replaced by Josh Valentine)
10. Christian Lealiifano
11. Francis Fainifo (replaced by Robbie Coleman)
12. Matt Giteau
13. Andrew Smith
14. Adam Ashley-Cooper
15. Pat McCabe
16. Huia Edmonds
17. Jono Owen
18. Julian Salvi
19. Ben Hand
20. Josh Valentine
21. Robbie Coleman
22. Tyrone Smith