Super Rugby: Sunwolves in narrow loss to Cheetahs

Boom Prinsloo (centre) of the Cheetahs in action during the 2016 Super Rugby match against the Sunwolves on March 12, 2016.
Boom Prinsloo (centre) of the Cheetahs in action during the 2016 Super Rugby match against the Sunwolves on March 12, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - South African side Cheetahs notched their first victory of the Super Rugby season, coming from behind to beat the Sunwolves 32-31 on Saturday evening at the National Stadium.

But the nail-biting win was far from straightforward.

Asia's first Super Rugby franchise, the Sunwolves, displayed ease at the start of the game playing in front of the 8,808-strong crowd at the Sports Hub, where the Japanese side are co-based.

Utilising the width of the field, the speed and mobility of Mark Hammett's Sunwolves exposed gaping holes in their opponents' defence, which took just four minutes to breach through right wing Akihito Yamada's try.

It would be the first of three tries for the 30-year-old Japanese, with captain Shota Horie adding another on the stroke of half-time to put the hosts comfortably ahead 28-13.

But the match turned completely on its head after the break.

The Cheetahs, desperate to get their first win of the season, clawed back with tries from Niel Marais (twice), Uzair Cassiem and Boom Prinsloo to snatch the lead from the Sunwolves, sneaking ahead 32-31 with less than 10 minutes left.

The Sunwolves had to play out the remainder of the match with 14 men, after Ed Quirk received a yellow card and was sent to the sin bin.

The Japanese side will return to the Republic on March 26 when they take on the Bulls, their second of three matches to be held at Kallang.