BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa (AFP) – Central Cheetahs’ joy at defeating fellow South African side Southern Kings 26-12 Saturday in the Super 15 was tempered by the failure to secure a bonus point.
The surprise side this season in the southern hemisphere provincial championship scored three tries but a fourth, which would have earned an extra point and taken them top of the South African conference, proved elusive.
It was not from lack of trying at Free State Stadium in this central city as substitute forwards Rynard Landman (twice) and Frans Viljoen got over the Kings line only to be held up.
With the ball hidden amid a pile of bodies on each occasion, New Zealand referee Jonathon White twice called for the assistant of the television match official, but there was no clear evidence that a try had been scored.
So the Cheetahs had to settle for a four-point victory that lifted them to sixth place, just one point behind South African conference leaders Northern Bulls, who defeated the Australian Waratahs a few hours earlier.
A familiar story unfolded for Super 15 newcomers Kings from Indian Ocean city Port Elizabeth as they proved combative, worked tirelessly, but had nothing to show for all the toil when the final whistle blew.
They prop up the South African table — 13 points adrift of Western Stormers — and if they stay in that position will face an end-of-season play-off against the Golden Lions from Johannesburg for a Super 15 slot next year.
“We were unlucky not to get the bonus point,” said Cheetahs captain and hooker Adriaan Strauss. “I opted to kick at goal when awarded a penalty 13 minutes from time in the belief we had time to score the fourth try.
“However, I am thrilled with the win as the Kings are a tough, physical side and collecting four points against them is no mean achievement,” added the fair-haired Springbok.
Kings captain, centre and former Cheetah Andries Strauss said: “We were not good enough. The attacking spark which could have changed the game in our favour was missing.”
Cheetahs led 15-9 at half-time thanks to tries by left wing Raymond Rhule and flank Pieter ‘Lappies’ Labuschagne and a conversion and a penalty by Burton Francis while rival fly-half Demetri Catrakilis slotted three penalties.
Right wing Willie le Roux stretched the lead with an early second-half try and there were two further penalties from Francis while all Kings had to show for 40 minutes of endeavour was a fourth Catrakilis penalty.