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Champions Chiefs snatch second draw

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Update: 9:05AM A post-siren try by right-wing Tim Nanai-Williams enabled Waikato Chiefs to snatch a 43-43 draw at Central Cheetahs in a Super Rugby thriller on Saturday.

Fly-half Aaron Cruden converted from in front of the posts to end a 10-try feast for a 15,000 crowd at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

It was the second high-scoring stalemate on a tour of South Africa for the defending champions, the New Zealanders having drawn 34-34 at Northern Bulls last weekend.

Chiefs stay third on the overall southern hemisphere championship standings with 20 points, one behind Australia's Brumbies and three adrift of the South African Coastal Sharks.

Cheetahs, at home after a disastrous four-defeat visit to Australasia, collected three points and moved off the bottom with compatriots Western Stormers dropping to last place.

Cheetahs stunned the visitors by building a 34-10 half-time lead on the back of a superb performance from scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

His sniping runs and alertness brought two tries and centre Rayno Benjamin and flank Boom Prinsloo also crossed.

Fly-half Johan Goosen converted the four tries and kicked two penalties while all Chiefs could manage was a try from scrum-half Augustine Pulu that Cruden converted and earlier kicking a penalty.

But if the Cheetahs dominated the opening half with their scrum a potent weapon, territory and possession during the second 40 minutes belonged largely to the Chiefs.

Cheetahs survived for 12 minutes before Pulu claimed his second try which Cruden converted and a stirring comeback began.

Nanai-Williams and left-wing Asaeli Tokoirotuma claimed a try each within four minutes midway around the hour mark, leaving the Chiefs trailing 37-29 with 17 minutes remaining.

Another Tikoirotuma try 10 minutes from time was converted by Cruden and just one point separated the sides with the Cheetahs looking increasingly weary as they chased elusive opponents.

A couple of Goosen penalties brought his match total to 23 points and gave the Bloemfontein franchise a 43-36 advantage.

But the home side conceded two late penalties and Chiefs patiently retained possession as they inched toward the try-line before Nanai-Williams spotted a gap and darted over.

Goosen, who has been linked with a move to France after the Super 15 season, succeeded with nine of 11 kicks at goal, potting five penalties and four conversions.

Cruden landed six of his eight shots at goal -- five conversions and a penalty -- with one of his failed attempts rebounding off the post.

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