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Reds hold on for narrow triumph

Published 18/04/2015

Australia international James O'Connor helped the Reds snatch victory over the Cheetahs
Australia international James O'Connor helped the Reds snatch victory over the Cheetahs

Cheetahs fly-half Joe Pietersen hit the post with a last-minute penalty as the Reds held on for an 18-17 victory at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

The Cheetahs could have snatched a fourth win of the campaign as Pietersen lined up his kick just before the hooter after the Reds, having fought back from a 10-3 half-time deficit to lead, had been penalised for playing the ball on the ground.

But former Biarritz and Stormers back Pietersen saw his effort come back off the stanchion and the Reds gleefully grabbed the ball and booted it into touch to seal only their second Super Rugby triumph of the season.

The result was the reward for a determined fightback from the Reds, who had trailed 10-0 moments before the break due to a Ryno Benjamin try and five points from the boot of Pietersen.

However, the Reds got on the scoresheet in the 40th minute when James O'Connor slotted over a penalty following a length period of attacking, and they continued that momentum in the second half with two tries in the opening 10 minutes.

Just three minutes after the restart Adam Korczyk charged through for a score which O' Connor converted to make it 10-10, and then Samu Kerevi crossed as well after the visitors had recycled possession.

O'Connor, who had put Kerevi in for the try, missed the extra points but the Reds still led by five.

That advantage lasted just six minutes, though, before the Cheetahs reclaimed the lead in a topsy-turvy match when Boom Prinsloo sneaked in following a maul and Pietersen fired over the conversion.

O'Connor missed a chance to put his side ahead after the Cheetahs encroached following another extended spell of Reds probing, but the Australian outfit would not be denied and, after a 14-phase move, Nick Frisby drilled home a drop-goal.

That put the Reds ahead with eight minutes left on the clock, but the Cheetahs still had one last chance to snatch the win, only to see Pietersen miss by the narrowest of margins.

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