Francis breaks Cape hearts

Burton Francis starred for the Cheetahs as they extended their winning streak to a record fifth victory when they beat the Stormers in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Cheetahs 26 (7) Stormers 15 (24)

Francis contributed 16 points with the boot, including a tricky injury time penalty, to give the Cheetahs their first win over the Stormers since 2007, making it five Super Rugby wins on the trot.

The Cheetahs used their opportunities better as both their tries came from mistakes by the Stormers. Robert Ebersohn burst over in the 20th minute after the visitors lost the ball via a poor pass from Nic Groom to Seteven Kitshoff hot on the attack in the home team’s 22, while replacement scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius scored early in the second half after charging down a very pedestrian kick from Groom.

Stormers outside centre Juan de Jongh got both his team’s tries late in a first half where they controlled matters to lead 15-7 at the break. The latter try being fairly controversial as it definitely came from a bounce off an accidentally offside player.

The visiting pack were on the front foot for most of the first 40 minutes, though, as they put the Cheetahs under pressure in the lineouts (unlike last week, it was the men in blue and white making steals in Bloemfontein) and via some impressive mauling.

But the home team never gave up and thanks to Francis’ boot they remained in contention. Apart from his two conversions and three penalty goals, the Cheetahs flyhalf also kicked a crucial drop goal with 12 minutes left in the match.

It was his 84th minute penalty – that came from a hugely impressive Cheetahs scrum that forced a tighthead on the halfway line – that did the damage for the Cheetahs.

Having played for all of the Lions, Bulls and Stormers prior to being the third choice flyhalf in Bloemfontein (behind Goosen and Smit), Francis would have enjoyed the performance immensely, especially against Elton Jantjies – a man allegedly being paid close on R4million to spend the year in Cape Town.

Cheetahs – Tries: Robert Ebersohn, Sarel Pretorius. Conversions: Burton Francis (2). Penalty goals: Francis (3). Drop goal: Francis.

Stormers – Tries: Juan de Jongh (2). Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalty goals: Pietersen (4).

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