Guinness Pro 14, Round 4
Connacht 24 Cheetahs 22
A Tom Farrell try deep into stoppage time gave Connacht a bonus-point win, which sends them top of Conference B tonight.
It was an intriguing game, in which Connacht appeared to be in control of at the break. They lead 14-5 at the interval, thanks largely to Niyi Adeolokun who scored one and created another try for Kieran Marmion. Joseph Deweba’s unconverted try on the half hour mark was the Cheetahs only response.
Ruan Pienaar inspired a Cheetahs come back with 17 points in twenty minutes early in the second half to turn the game on its head.
Two tries from Rhyno Smith and Clayton Blommetjies, both converted by Ruan Pienaar, along with a penalty kick from the former Ulster scrum-half gave the Cheetahs a 14-22 lead after 63 minutes.
The Connacht faithful felt harshly aggrieved prior to Blommetjies try when John Porch picked off an intercept try from his own goal line to run the length of the field. Only for referee Ben Whitehouse to bring play back for an apparent offside from centre Kyle Godwin in the build-up.
Whitehouse, however, had no choice but to issue a red card to the Cheetahs centre Dries Swanepoel for a recklessly attempted cleanout, which caught Caolin Blade on the head.
Connacht made the most of their numerical advantage in the closing quarter. Within a minute of the red card substitute, Tom Farrell, peeled off the back of a maul to score. Conor Fitzgerald’s subsequent conversion shaved the wrong side of the upright, and Connacht trailed by three.
Connacht turned the screw on the fourteen man Cheetahs as they went in search of a winning try. Twice their lineout malfunctioned when the went to the corner with penalties. Twice, after the clock had entered the red, they turned down kickable penalty opportunities to tie the game. The decisive moment of the game came deep into stoppage time when Tom Farrell stretched over to give Connacht the most dramatic of wins.
Fulltime at the Sportsground: Connacht 24 Cheetahs 22