WATCH: Munster hit for six as Cheetahs score bonus point win in Guinness PRO14

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

WATCH: Munster

Munster winger Darren Sweetnam looks to collect this box kick in Friday night's Guinness PRO14 clash with the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein

THE free-scoring Toyota Cheetahs ended Munster's winning start to the new Guinness PRO14 season when scoring a comprehensive 40-16 bonus point victory at Toyota Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein on Friday night.

Munster, who had secured bonus point wins in their two opening Pro14 fixtures, including an impressive victory over the Kings in the opening leg of their South African tour, remained well in the contest at half-time when trailing by just three points, 9-12.

However, the clinical Cheetahs took a firm grip on the game played at altitude in the second half, running in four further tries to close out an impressive victory.

In the end, Munster were outscored by six tries to one, with centre Dan Goggin finishing an excellent move in the 76th minute to score the visitors' only five-pointer.

This was the first defeat for Munster in eight meetings with the two South African sides in the Pro14.

Munster, minus their 12 Ireland internationals away on World Cup duty in Japan, are not involved in Pro 14 action for two weeks as the competition takes a break next weekend.

The Cheetahs had started the season on fire, racking up a mammoth 16 tries and 111 points in the first two
rounds – including a 63-26 win over Ulster in their previous outing. However, defences held sway in the opening 50 minutes.

The Cheetahs hit the front on 11 minutes after Munster hooker Rhys Marshall was sin-binned for deliberately collapsing a maul. 

The home side kicked to the corner from the resultant penalty, won the line-out and scrum-half Ruan Pienaar put powerful prop Ox Nche over from close range.

Former Ulster scrum-half Pienaar duly added the conversion for 7-0.

With Marshall back on the field in the 20th minute, Munster were awarded a scrum penalty just outside the opposition '22. The visitors opted for a kick at goal and Tyler Bleyendaal landed the kick for 7-3.

Munster drew with a point of their hosts in the 28th minute when Kiwi Bleyendaal landed his second penalty kick after the Cheetahs were penalised for off-side.

Munster's linespeed in defence was excellent in that opening half an hour as they regularly forced kicking and handling errors from their hosts.

The visitors also used the 'Garryowen' to telling effect, using the high kick option to regain possession several times during the half.

However, just as Munster appeared to have gained an edge, Johann van Graan's charges shipped the game's opening try when centre Louis Fouche and winger William Small-Smith combined to put flanker Junior Pokomela for a Cheetahs five-pointer and a 12-6 lead after 34 minutes.

Back came Munster again and the see-saw nature of the scoring continued when the Cheetahs were again pinged for off-side in the middle of the pitch and the reliable Bleyendaal duly split the uprights to reduce the gap to three points, 12-9.

Munster trailed by those three points, 9-12, at half-time, but remained right in the contest.

A fourth penalty kick for Bleyenddal from distance three minutes after the restart collided with the upright, before the Cheetahs cleared the ball upfield.

Munster were hit with a real blow two minutes later when fleet-footed winger William Small-Smith finished off a flowing move to score in the right corner.

Pienaar also added the extras for a 10-point lead, 19-9.

Munster introduced vastly experienced New Zealand scrum-half Alby Mathewson on 50 minutes to help add a new dimension to their play.

However, the Cheetahs were over for their bonus point try in the 53rd minute after Munster were helpless to halt the South African side's powerful driving maul with hooker Joseph Dweba getting the touchdown. Pienaar again converted for 26-9.

The Cheetahs cranked up the pace of the game in the final quarter as Munster visibly tired at altitude. The Free State Cheetahs had their fifth try with just under 10 minutes remaining when replacement Jasper Wiese crossed the whitewash. Pienaar's fourth successful conversion made it 33-9.

To their credit, Munster hit back with an excellent try, scored by centre Dan Goggin, after a fine break by the impressive Shane Daly on 75 minutes.

SCORERS: Toyota Cheetahs: Rhyno Smyth, Ox Nche, Junior Pokomela, William Small-Smith, Joseph Dweba, Jasper Wiese try each, Ruan Pienaar four cons, Tian Schoeman con. Munster: Dan Goggin try, Tyler Bleyendaal three pens, JJ Hanrahan con.

TOYOTA CHEETAHS: Rhyno Smyth, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Louis Fouche, Anthony Volmink, Tian Schoeman, Ruan Pienaar (CAPT); Ox Nche, Joseph Dweba, Luan de Bruin, Sintu Manjezi, Walt Steenkamp, Gerhard Olivier, Junior Pokomela, Henco Venter. Replacements: Jasper Wiese for Olivier, Clayton Blommetjies for William Small-Smith, Sias Koen for Pokomela (55 mins), Reinach Venter for Dweba, Boan Venter for Nche, Neethling Fouche for du Bruin, JP du Preez for Manjezi (all 67 mins).

MUNSTER: Mike Haley, Darren Sweetnam, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly, Tyler Bleyendaal, Nick McCarthy; Jeremy Loughman, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer; Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (CAPT), Jack O’Donoghue, Tommy O’Donnell, Arno Botha. Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne for O'Donnell (17-19 mins), Marshall (52 mins), Alby Mathewson for McCarthy (50 mins), James Cronin for Loughman, Keynan Knox for Archer, Gavin Coombes for O'Donnell (all 54 mins), JJ Hanrahan for Bleyendaal (63 mins), Calvin Nash for Haley (65 mins).

REFEREE: Mike Adamson  (Scotland)