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Super Rugby: Cheetahs prove too good for Sharks
The Sharks missed the chance to put one foot in a home semi-final as they lost 27-20 to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Because of their narrow defeat, they now sit in third position behind the Crusaders, who are second due to a stronger points differential.
However, the game was not without late drama as SP Marais was denied a try after the TMO showed Tonderai Chavhanga was bundled into touch.
The Cheetahs meanwhile move off the bottom of the table, going above the Rebels and staying in touch with the Lions who are two ahead of them.
Apart from wanting to get off the basement, the Cheetahs had pride to play for on Saturday and with plenty of the Sharks' first-team forward pack not starting due to their Springbok exploits, they pounced from a driving maul on eight minutes. It was a rampant set-piece from the home side too as Torsten van Jaarsveld ran over from the tail.
Johan Goosen's conversion to go with a third-minute penalty goal for an off-the-ball tackle from Dale Chadwick on Sarel Pretorius gave the Cheetahs an early 10-0 lead.
The Sharks desperately needed a foothold and it came in the nineteenth minute when Van Jaarsveld was caught offside, allowing Tim Swiel to open his account off the tee. It would be the start of a turnaround in fortunes for the next ten minutes as the visiting side took control.
The catalyst came from one of the Sharks' main threats as the pace of Cobus Reinach was too much for the Cheetahs as he raced over from halfway. Swiel was again on target as the extras made it a tied game in what was an entertaining first 23 minutes in Bloemfontein.
Swiel was successful again soon afterwards when Cheetahs loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane was pinged for deliberately collapsing a maul that put the Sharks ahead for the first time.
However the Cheetahs managed to bounce back off the ropes before the break when strong running led to Philip van der Walt reaching out for a score under the uprights. Goosen of course made no mistake to put his side 17-13 up and keep the Sharks third in the table.
That crucial standing which would leave the Sharks not having the possibility of a home semi in their own hands was even more likely in the 49th minute when the Cheetahs crossed again via Lood de Jager. It was deserved as the hosts showed greater intensity.
Cue Jake White sending on Bismarck du Plessis, Willem Alberts and Jannie du Plessis for the closing 30 minutes but instead of an eleven-point deficit to chase, another three points from Goosen on 56 minutes meant the Sharks were now looking at two scores just to level.
They got one when hooker Du Plessis scored a try similar to Van Jaarsveld's opener at the tail of a maul before that late Chavhanga moment left the Cheetahs relieved to cling on.
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|Friday 27th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels|
|09:00||Reds vs Lions|
|Saturday 28th March|
|05:30||Chiefs vs Cheetahs|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Stormers|
|08:40||Waratahs vs Blues|
|15:05||Sharks vs Western Force|
|17:10||Bulls vs Crusaders|
|Friday 3rd April|
|07:35||Hurricanes vs Stormers|
|09:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Reds|
|Saturday 4th April|
|07:35||Chiefs vs Blues|
|09:40||Brumbies vs Cheetahs|
|14:00||Sharks vs Crusaders|
|16:05||Lions vs Bulls|
|Friday 10th April|
|08:35||Blues vs Brumbies|
|Saturday 11th April|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Highlanders|
|10:40||Waratahs vs Stormers|
|12:45||Western Force vs Cheetahs|
|14:00||Bulls vs Reds|
|16:05||Lions vs Sharks|
|Friday 17th April|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Chiefs|
|Saturday 18th April|
|05:30||Hurricanes vs Waratahs|
|08:35||Highlanders vs Blues|
|10:40||Brumbies vs Melbourne Rebels|
|12:45||Western Force vs Stormers|
|16:05||Sharks vs Bulls|
|Sunday 22nd March|
|Waratahs 28 - 13 Brumbies|
|Saturday 21st March|
|Sharks 12 - 11 Chiefs|
|Bulls 25 - 24 Western Force|
|Crusaders 57 - 14 Cheetahs|
|Friday 20th March|
|Melbourne Rebels 16 - 20 Lions|
|Highlanders 13 - 20 Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th March|
|Cheetahs 10 - 27 Sharks|
|Stormers 19 - 28 Chiefs|
|Reds 0 - 29 Brumbies|
|Highlanders 26 - 19 Waratahs|
|Crusaders 34 - 6 Lions|
|Friday 13th March|
|Western Force 17 - 21 Melbourne Rebels|
|Hurricanes 30 - 23 Blues|
|Saturday 7th March|
|Stormers 29 - 13 Sharks|
|Cheetahs 20 - 39 Bulls|
|Reds 5 - 23 Waratahs|
|Blues 10 - 13 Lions|
|Friday 6th March|
|Brumbies 27 - 15 Western Force|
|Chiefs 17 - 20 Highlanders|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Lions 19 - 22 Stormers|
|Bulls 43 - 35 Sharks|
|Melbourne Rebels 15 - 20 Brumbies|
|Chiefs 40 - 16 Crusaders|
|Friday 27th February|
|Cheetahs 25 - 24 Blues|
|Western Force 13 - 42 Hurricanes|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com