Cheetahs strike late to deny Connacht victory in South Africa
A 79th minute penalty from outhalf Niel Marais gave the home side a tight victory
Connacht’s Matt Healy scores a try despite the best efforts of Cheetahs’ Craig Barry and Niel Marais during their Pro14 clash. Photo: Frikkie Kappy/Getty Images
Cheetahs 26 Connacht 25
Niel Marais scored a last-minute penalty as Cheetahs snatched a 26-25 win against Connacht in Bloemfontein.
The hosts had trailed 25-16 heading into the final 20 minutes but Rabs Maxwane’s converted try set up a dramatic finish and Connacht were sunk by Marais’ late kick.
Uzair Cassiem scored the opening try for the South African side in the third minute, which Marais converted, before the scrum-half booted a penalty to give the home team a 10-0 advantage inside 10 minutes.
Connacht hit back through Matt Healy’s try, with Jack Carty adding the extras in the 15th minute.
Marais slotted two more penalties either side of Healy’s second try of the night, with Carty also on target from the tee in the 38th minute as Cheetahs left the field leading 16-15 at the break.
The visitors moved ahead in the 57th minutes thanks to Eoin Griffin’s try, converted by Carty, before the late match-winning riposte by Maxwane and Marais left Connacht with only a losing bonus point.