Pro14: Cheetahs v LeinsterCheetahs (19) 38Tries: Small-Smith, van Jaarsveld, Nche, Pokomela Cons: Stapelberg 3 Pens: Stapelberg 4Leinster (5) 19Tries: Daly 3 Cons: Byrne 2
Leinster’s winning start to the Pro14 ended as South African newcomers the Cheetahs won in Bloemfontein despite Barry Daly’s hat-trick of tries.
Four Ernst Stapelberg penalties and a William Small-Smith try put the Cheetahs 19-5 up at half-time after Barry Daly’s early Leinster score.
Tries from Torsten van Jaarsveld and Ox Nche increased the margin to 31-5.
Daly replied with two more tries but as Leinster chased a bonus point Luther Obi notched a late intercept try.
Obi’s score in the final play of the game meant that it was the Cheetahs who picked up a bonus point as they achieved a second straight victory following their win over Zebre.
After the Cheetahs’ lack of defensive organisation in the opening defeats in Ireland by Ulster and Munster, Leinster were favourites to win in South Africa but the Pro14 newcomers proved a vastly different proposition on home territory.
Stapelberg’s impressive kicking both in defence and for points was a crucial steadying aspect for the Cheetahs as he punished a series of Leinster first-half infringements after Daly’s early score.
The hosts were initially reliant on the Stapelberg’s kicking as his four penalties kept Cheetahs ahead for much of the first half despite Daly crossing for a fifth-minute try in the left corner.
Small-Smith scored Cheetahs’ first try of the night two minutes before the interval with Stapelberg’s successful conversion increasing the hosts’ advantage to 14 points.
The Irish side’s task was made harder when hooker James Tracy was shown a yellow card shortly after the break, and Cheetahs made their numerical advantage tell as hooker van Jaarsveld bundled over from a maul.
The hosts’ forwards were proving too hot to handle as Ox Nche went over from a lineout, with Stapelberg adding the extras, although Daly scored his second of the night on the hour mark and Ross Byrne kicked the conversion.
Wing Daly completed his hat-trick after 74 minutes after getting in down the left flank but as the visitors chased a losing bonus point in injury, Obi’s length-of-the-field effort rounded off the Cheetahs’ victory.
Cheetahs: S Petersen; R Specman, F Venter (capt), W Small-Smith, M Mapimpi; E Stapelberg, T Meyer; C Marais, T van Jaarsveld, T Botha; J Basson, R Hugo; P Schoeman, H Venter, O Mohoje. Replacements: J du Toit, O Nche, J Coetzee, R Bernardo, J Pokomela, S Venter, N Lee, L Obi.
Leinster: J Carbery; D Kearney, N Reid, I Nacewa, B Daly; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; C Healy, J Tracy, M Bent; R Molony, M Kearney; J Murphy, J van der Flier, J Conan. Replacements: S Cronin, P Dooley, A Porter, R Ruddock, M Deegan, N McCarthy, C Marsh, R O’Loughlin