The Tahs were impressive in the first 40 minutes, but their lacklustre showing in the second half shows there is much room for improvement.
The Tahs got off to the perfect start when wing Atieli Pakalani went over after four minutes. The Sydney-siders’ big pack has been one of their strengths for many seasons now, and the way they shoved the Chiefs back in the first scrum was ominous. From the resultant tighthead five metres from the line, the Tahs scored after a few phases – once wing Pakalani ran a good angle.
The Chiefs hit back with a penalty, but they would’ve felt they required more after scrumhalf Brendon Leonard dropped the ball with the line in reach.
There was little to commend the rugby on display but the Cheetahs won’t care an iota about that. They won so for them it was mission accomplished. They weren’t seeking a spectacular performance, they were looking for a win and that’s what they got.
Their in-your-face defence was tight, they kicked their goals and they scored the only two tries of the game.
They brought attitude to their performance – which the Waratahs did not – and earned their win if not through skill, then certainly through courage. They were also cleverer than the home team.
The spectators who made their way to the Sydney Football Stadium will feel hard done by. They deserved better and indeed, those who stayed to the end certainly deserved more continuity and creativity than they were offered. Sadly though, they jeered their team at half-time and when the Waratahs left the field after the final whistle it was to resounding booing.
The Waratahs beat the Hurricanes 32-16 after leading 18-9 at halftime to secure their semi-final spot in the Super 14. The Crusaders also sent out a warning to fellow semi-finalists by comprehensively beating the Brumbies 40-22 in Christchurch on Friday
The Waratahs scored four tries through fullback Kurtley Beale (2) and wing Drew Mitchell (2). Flyhalf Berrick Barnes landed three conversions and two penalties.
The Hurricanes replied with a try by replacement wing David Smith. Scrumhalf Piri Weepu kicked a conversion and three penalties.
Vodacom Stormers 42 Crusaders 14
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Jaque Fourie (2), Sireli Naqelevuki; Conversions: Peter Grant (3); Penalties: Grant (7).
Crusaders – Tries: Daniel Carter, Colin Slade; Conversions: Carter (2).
Vodacom Bulls 27 The Sharks 19
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Gerhard van den Heever; Conversion: Morne Steyn; Penalties: Steyn (5).
The Sharks – Try: Rory Kockott; Conversion: Kockott; Penalties: Andy Goode (4).
Vodacom Cheetahs 36 Blues 32
Vodacom Cheetahs – Tries: Juan Smith, Jongi Nokwe, Bjorn Basson, Phillip van der Merwe, Waltie Vermeulen; Conversions: Naas Olivier (2), Meyer Bosman (2); Penalty: Olivier.
Blues – Tries: Isaia Toeava, Rene Ranger, Alby Mathewson, Anthony Tuitavake; Conversions: Stephen Brett (3); Penalties: Brett (2).
Chiefs 25 Vodacom Cheetahs 25
Chiefs – Tries: Colin Bourke, Hika Elliot, Toby Smith, Dwayne Sweeney, Liam Messam.
Vodacom Cheetahs – Tries: Devon Raubenheimer, WP Nel, Meyer Bosman; Conversions: Naas Olivier (2); Penalties: Olivier (2).
Vodacom Bulls 51 Auto & General Lions 11
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Gerhard van den Heever (2), Derick Kuün, Morné Steyn, Wynand Olivier, John Mametsa; Conversions: Morné Steyn (3); Penalties: Steyn (5).
Auto & General Lions – Try: Wandile Mjekevu; Penalties: Herkie Kruger (2).
Chiefs 15 Vodacom Stormers 49
Chiefs – Tries: Tamerau Latimer, Tim Nanai-Williams; Conversion: Stephen Donald; Penalty: Donald.
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Bryan Habana, Duane Vermeulen, Tiaan Liebenberg, Sireli Naqelevuki, Andries Bekker, Deon Fourie; Conversions: Peter Grant (4), Willem de Waal; Penalties: Grant (3).
Crusaders 45 Vodacom Cheetahs 6
Crusaders – Tries: Thomas Waldrom (2), Kahn Fotuali`i, Ryan Crotty, Sean Maitland, Ben Franks, Zac Guildford; Conversions: Colin Slade (5).
Vodacom Cheetahs – Penalties: Riaan Viljoen, Meyer Bosman.
Auto & General Lions 28 The Sharks 32
Auto & General Lions – Tries: Michael Killian, Franco van der Merwe, Derick Minnie; Conversions: Herkie Kruger (2); Penalties: Kruger (3).
The Sharks – Tries: Patrick Lambie, Odwa Ndungane, Bismarck du Plessis, Jacques Botes; Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (3); Penalties: Pienaar (2).
Chiefs – Try: Brendon Leonard; Conversion: Stephen Donald; Penalties: Donald (4).
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Gerhard van den Heever, Pierre Spies, Gary Botha, Dewald Potgieter; Conversions: Morne Steyn (2); Penalties: Steyn (3).
Blues – Tries: Serge Lilo, Luke McAlister, Joe Rokocoko; Conversions: Stephen Brett (3).
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Jaque Fourie, Dewaldt Duvenhage, Anton van Zyl; Conversions: Peter Grant (3); Penalties: Grant (4).
Brumbies – Tries: Ben Alexander (2), Stephen Hoiles, Patrick Phibbs, Tyrone Smith, Rocky Elsom, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Toomua, Alfi Mafi; Conversions: Matt Giteau (6), Julian Huxley (2).
Vodacom Cheetahs – Tries: Sarel Pretorius, Adriaan Strauss; Conversion: Riaan Viljoen; Penalty: Naas Olivier. Auto & General Lions 26 Reds 41