Phenomenal comeback for Chiefs

Damian MacKenzie charging down the field at a game earlier this month. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

The Chiefs have managed a great Super Rugby escape act, beating the Cheetahs 41-27 in Bloemfontein to rediscover their winning touch.

Down 24-0 after 21 minutes, the visitors regained their composure, eventually scoring six tries to three to secure a bonus point and remain second in the New Zealand conference.

Following last week's 34-26 loss to the Stormers, the Chiefs appeared poised to suffer a first-ever defeat against the Cheetahs as they gifted the home side three simple tries.

Raymond Rhule, Torsten van Jaarsveld and captain Francois Venter all crossed as the Cheetahs played a form of rugby rarely seen from them in a difficult start to the season.

However, once the Chiefs stopped conceding penalties and got their hands on some meaningful possession, the match turned.

Toni Pulu crossed twice before halftime, the second try off some brilliant build-up work from flanker Sam Cane, to reduce the deficit to 10 points.

Momentum appeared to swing again when Chiefs prop Kane Hames was shown a 45th-minute yellow card.

However, the subsequent 10 minutes yielded nothing more than a penalty for the hosts, while the Chiefs landed a penalty and converted try to halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

Still trailing 27-22, the Chiefs hit the front through impressive winger James Lowe.

Cheetahs reserve first five-eighth Fred Zeilinga missed a penalty which would have put his team back in front, before the result was sealed with tries in the last seven minutes to Shaun Stevenson and Hika Elliot.

The Chiefs, who have won six of seven games, face the Force in Perth on Saturday.

A highveld derby against the Bulls awaits the Cheetahs, whose fifth loss from seven delivers another blow to any play-off hopes.



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