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Super Rugby: Late Willie le Roux try seals 12-6 victory for Cheetahs over Sharks
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A late Willie le Roux try confirmed victory for the Cheetahs over South African rivals the Sharks as they edged an error-strewn encounter 12-6 on Saturday.
Winger le Roux intercepted a pass from Pieter-Steph du Toit and sprinted home from 45 metres for a score two minutes from time.
However, with conversion missed, the Sharks were still within range and very nearly snatched an unlikely victory after a superb break by centre Paul Jordaan, but the hosts were penalised while trying to score a pushover try and the referee then blew for full-time.
The victory lifts the Cheetahs above the Sharks into top spot in the South African conference and to third on the combined southern hemisphere provincial championship table.
After surrendering a five-game winning run at the Bulls last weekend, it was a welcome return to winning ways for the Bloemfontein-based outfit at a ground where they have traditionally struggled.
Wet conditions ensured the contest was not much of a spectacle with the slippery ball constantly mishandled, especially by home side who came in for some criticism from their own fans in the closing stages.
The opening score of the game did not arrive until seven minutes before the interval when left wing Raymond Rhule touched down following a couple of hacked kicks forward, with fly-half Burton Francis converting.
After opting for touch with a couple of earlier penalty opportunities, Sharks fly-half Patrick Lambie slotted one in first-half stoppage time to leave the home team trailing 7-3 at the break.
Francis was short with a drop-kick attempt and also missed a penalty before Lambie kicked another penalty on 65 minutes to narrow the gap to just a single point.
But as the error count rose, the Sharks struggled to genuinely threaten their opponents' line and le Roux's late intervention ensured the Cheetahs would leave with the spoils.