Donald the hero as Chiefs take win
Saturday, March 8, 2008 Sportal.co.nz Photosport
However, the Chiefs could feel aggrieved that a penalty try did not go their way from the incident in which Donald landed his winning goal.
Lelia Masaga was flying down the sideline just short of the goal-line when downed in a cynical head-high tackle by wing Eddie Fredericks which resulted in him being sent to the sin-bin.
The Chiefs had to turn around a lamentable first half effort when they were 0-17 down before claiming the win.
Some of the home side produced big games none more than blindside flanker Faifili Levave who may not have been especially well known before Saturday's game, but he made a huge impression.
Prop Ben May was another significant contributor for the Chiefs.
Cheetahs captain and lock Rory Duncan was an early frustration for the Chiefs in lineouts while No.8 Duane Vermeulen had a powerful game with some outstanding tackles while fullback Hennie Dahniller was a solid presence for the side.
The Chiefs inability to secure their own lineout ball cost them dearly during the first quarter.
Duncan contested two of the Chiefs early lineouts and won ball, and then when the Chiefs finally won their first throw, it was tapped down for Cheetahs hooker Adrian Strauss to steal the ball and set up a ruck.
From that movement centre JW Jonker carved his way through weak defence to feed flying wing Fredericks in for a try after 11 minutes. First five-eighths Conrad Barnard added a penalty goal.
Wing Sitiveni Sivivatu was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle and Barnard added a penalty goal.
From a free kick just outside their own 22m area after some unrelenting movement by the Cheetahs across field and back, the defence stood up and then after a turnover occurred the visitors infringed.
The Chiefs moved the ball quickly and halfback Brendon Leonard, who was lurking well out in the backline raced through like a centre and was only just tipped out on the Cheetahs 22m area.
Another turnover after 29 minutes saw the Cheetahs move the ball quickly for left wing Jongi Nokwe to run into space and clear out from the defence to score under the posts for the Cheetahs to move out to a 17-0 lead.
Some concentrated play on the Cheetahs line saw Leonard fall just short of the line after consultation with the television match official. But the Chiefs won the scrum five metres out and then won a penalty.
But in keeping with the disappointing Chiefs performance, first five-eighths Stephen Donald failed to land two kickable penalty goal chances, the second the last act of the first half.
Much more controlled in the second half, the Chiefs got into the Cheetahs 22m area and after three minutes it was Leonard who broke towards the line and was pushed over the line where it appeared flanker Tom Harding scored the try. Donald's conversion reduced the margin to 10 points.
Six minutes later, fullback Mils Muliaina controlled a Cheetahs kick ahead, and from the ruck the ball was moved spectacularly across the field with Donald flicked the ball back for Sivivatu to feed flying hooker Willis. He ran like a centre, the ball carried in both hands, before feeding wing Sosene Anesi.
Challenged close to the line, he in-passed to Sivivatu who had remained in support and he crossed under the bar with the conversion added.
Barnard added a penalty goal after 51 minutes.
The further the game went the more pressure the Cheetahs were under and the more mistakes they committed. The Chiefs were guilty of some panicked play with mistakes imbued by desperation and it became a stalemate.
But then a mistake on the line, when replacement fullback Tewis de Bruyn dropped the ball and presented the Chiefs with a five-metre scrum eventually saw the Chiefs get over the line when second five-eighths Callum Bruce bashed his way across at a maul.
Chiefs: 22 (Tom Harding, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Callum Bruce tries; Stephen Donald 2 con, pen) Cheetahs: 20 (Eddie Fredericks, Jongi Nokwe tries; Conrad Barnard 2 con, 2 pen). HT: 0-17
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