An injury time try by Luan de Bruin secured the Toyota Cheetahs a dramatic 24-17 victory in their Guinness PRO14 derby against the Isuzu Southern Kings at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Friday evening, and back-to-back wins in the competition.
The visitors had to work hard for the victory as the Isuzu Southern Kings delivered a spirited performance, which saw the sides tied at 17-17 with 10 minutes left of the clash.
The hosts delivered a vastly improved performance from two weeks ago when they went down 38-0 to Edinburgh, but the victory for the Toyota Cheetahs ensured that they extended their winning run against their Port Elizabeth counterparts to four in the competition, while it also marked back-to-back wins for the side after a 27-12 victory against Zebre in their last outing.
The only points scored in the first half was a converted try by Rabz Maxwane – the leading try scorer in the competition – which handed the Free Staters a 7-0 halftime lead.
Maxwane touched down in the eighth minute as the Toyota Cheetahs took advantage of an overlap out wide, and the successful conversion by Tian Schoeman pushed them 7-0 ahead.
The visitors were reduced to 14 men soon after as Tian Meyer received a yellow card, but despite this they managed to deny the hosts from reaching the tryline.
The Isuzu Southern Kings started the second half with a bang as Ntabeni Dukisa scored two minutes after play resumed thanks to creative play in which they changed direction on attack, which created a hole in the defence. The successful conversion levelled the scores at 7-7.
The Toyota Cheetahs cancelled this out three minutes later as Junior Pokomela dived over the chalk following several phases on attack, and Schoeman added the two points to push them back into a seven point lead.
Isuzu Southern Kings fullback Masixole Banda reduced the deficit to four points with a penalty goal, but the Toyota Cheetahs continued to apply pressure on attack and their efforts almost paid off as the ball was held up over the tryline. They got within metres of the tryline again minutes later, but the tenacious Isuzu Southern Kings defence managed to shut them out.
The Bloemfontein outfit were finally rewarded for their determined efforts on attack as Benhard Janse van Rensburg kicked a penalty goal in the 64th minute to push their lead to 17-10.
The home side responded well and managed to work their way within metres of the tryline with a little more than 10 minutes to play, but the Toyota Cheetahs stood their ground on defence and managed to win a penalty, which relived the pressure.
The Southern Kings, however, showed their fighting spirit and earned a penalty try after a solid forward effort with eight minutes to play, which left the teams level at 17-17.
This had the home crowd on their feet, but this was not enough as De Bruin crossed the tryline for the visitors after immense pressure up front, which sealed the victory for the visitors.
Southern Kings 17 (0) – Tries: Ntabeni Dukisa, Penalty Try. Conversion: Louis Fouche. Penalty Goal: Masixole Banda.
Cheetahs 24 (7) – Tries: Rabz Maxwane, Junior Pokomela, Luan de Bruin. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (2), Louis Fouche. Penalty Goal: Benhard Janse Van Rensburg.