Highlanders beat Cheetahs in second half spree

The Highlanders scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to sweep to a 32-8 Super 14 victory over the bottom-placed Central Cheetahs on Saturday.

The Highlanders were behind 5-8 at the break, but ran in another four second half tries with the wind behind them as the winless Cheetahs crumbled under relentless pressure.

The win was only the second for the Highlanders this season and the bonus point was the icing on the cake as they attempt to pull themselves off the bottom tier of the Super 14 table.

All Black flanker Adam Thompson was at the heart of the Highlanders effort, running in two tries and never letting up his work rate, while fullback Israel Dagg also deserved his reward of two tries.

The Cheetahs went into the break with an 8-5 lead after both sides scored an unconverted try apiece, with the difference a 10th minute penalty from Cheetahs flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter.

Both Potgieter and Highlanders’ inside centre Daniel Bowden missed several other opportunities in cool, windy conditions.

Thompson scored the first try of the match, finishing off a powerful drive by the Highlanders pack after a lineout win 10 metres out in the 19th minute.

The Cheetahs had the better of the middle section of the half, repeatedly launching attacks on the Highlanders’ tryline but were repelled by a committed defence.

Eventually the pressure told and opportunistic outside centre Corne Uys pounced after the Highlanders defence could not control a high up and under from Cheetahs fullback Hennie Daniller.

Uys scooped up the ball and sprinted 35 metres to touch down.

The Highlanders reclaimed the lead just three minutes into the second spell after Bowden kicked a beautifully weighted grubber kick behind the defence.

Daniller could not pull the ball in and Dagg was on hand to claim the try.

Flyhalf Matthew Berquist stretched the lead to 13-8 after kicking the Highlanders first successful penalty from six attempts in the 48th minute.

The resurgent Highlanders scored their third try after 57 minutes when a bullocking run by No. 8 George Naoupu was finished by replacement forward Steven Setephano.

Setephano charged straight into the upright but was able to twist and ground the ball.

Thompson and Dagg put the result beyond any doubt with their second tries in the 66th and 73rd minutes.

Sapa-AFP Super14.com

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