Rugby: Sunwolves slammed for 'embarrassing' 92-17 thrashing by Cheetahs

Sunwolves' Edward Quirk (right) avoiding a tackle during the Super Rugby match between Sunwolves and Cheetahs at the Bloemfontein rugby stadium on April 15, 2016.
Sunwolves' Edward Quirk (right) avoiding a tackle during the Super Rugby match between Sunwolves and Cheetahs at the Bloemfontein rugby stadium on April 15, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett said the Japanese Sunwolves were "embarrassing" Super Rugby after they suffered a 92-17 mauling from the South African Central Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Cheetahs scored 14 tries at Free State Stadium to achieve the biggest triumph in the competition this season, easily surpassing the 53-10 victory of Waikato Chiefs over Western Force.

Seven-time champions Canterbury Crusaders hold the record for the most points in a Super Rugby match - 96 against the New South Wales Waratahs in 2002 in Christchurch. The biggest winning margin was achieved by the South African Northern Bulls when they crushed Queensland Reds 92-3 in Pretoria nine seasons ago.

SuperSport TV analyst Mallett, who took South Africa to third place at the 1999 Rugby World Cup in England, said the match was not good for Super Rugby or the Tokyo-based newcomers.

"It was embarrassing," he told viewers. "Imagine what the scoreline could have been if the Sunwolves were playing one of the top New Zealand teams.

"The Sunwolves lost heart and belief and gave up long before the final whistle. This match was not a proper reflection of Super Rugby. They had no defensive structures and when they did get the ball, repeatedly committed handling errors."

Fellow analyst and former Springboks fly-half Naas Botha was equally critical of the Sunwolves as they suffered a seventh consecutive loss in their debut season, including four at home.

"There was no commitment, no sharpness, and they have a lot of tough fixtures ahead. Any team could have shone against them tonight," he added.

The match completed a three-match tour of South Africa for the Japanese franchise, who lost 33-28 to Southern Kings and 46-19 to Western Stormers.

Cheetahs skipper and centre Francois Venter said: "This was a special effort and I am proud of the boys. Our scrummaging was great and it gave us lots of quick ball."

Stunned Sunwolves skipper and hooker Shota Horie said the defeat was particularly depressing as they wanted to lift the spirits of their countrymen after a series of earthquakes hit Japan. A powerful quake hit the south of the country early Saturday, a day after a strong tremor in the same area killed nine people, injured hundreds and toppled buildings.

Said Horie: "We wanted to play good rugby, to be courageous, to raise the morale of our people in the aftermath of the earthquakes, but it was not to be.

"It is a difficult result to accept. We host the Argentine Jaguares in Tokyo next weekend and we must work much harder and rebuild our confidence."