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Cheetahs race past Blues in Bloemfontein to seal play-off spot
The Cheetahs ran in three tries as they registered a convincing 34-19 victory over the Blues in the penultimate round of Super Rugby fixtures in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Scores from Philip van der Walt, Sarel Pretorious and Boom Prinsloo were enough to see the hosts to victory as they eased their way past their New Zealand opponents.
Victory takes the Cheetahs to 54 points and subsequently secures their place in the end of season play-offs for the first time in the history of the franchise.
The hosts were on the scoreboard in the opening two minutes as fly half Riaan Smit slotted home a three-pointer.
Sir John Kirwan's side hit back immediately however, when Peter Saili broke through the Cheetahs backline before finding Jamison Gibson-Park who raced in the opening try of the match with Baden Kerr adding the extras to give the Blues a 7-3 lead.
The Cheetahs enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening exchanges which culminated with Smit dissecting the posts once again before Van der Walt reached over the line off the back of a scrum as the hosts regained the advantage.
Kerr added another penalty before his opposite number responded with two more successful kicks from the tee as the Cheetahs went into the break with a 19-10 lead.
Both sides came out firing after the restart with breaks from Blues winger Rene Ranger and Cheetahs centre Johann Sadie both threatening opposition defences, but ultimately to no avail.
It was Blues fly half Kerr who registered the first points of the second period from the kicking tee before Smit hit back again with a penalty for the Cheetahs.
Naka Drotske brought on scrum half Pretrious midway through the half and it proved to be an inspired move when the 29-year-old raced home a second Cheetahs try as daylight started to emerge between the sides.
Reluctant to settle the Cheetahs continued on the offensive and found their way through the Blues defence once again as Prinsloo touched down the final score of the game as the Cheetahs sealed the tie and a place in the Super Rugby play offs.
The result now means the Sharks, Blues, Waratahs and Stormers are out of the running to make the knock-out stages.