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RugbyU: Goosen kicks Cheetahs to first win over Highlanders

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Johan Goosen kicked the Central Cheetahs to an historic first victory over the Otago Highlanders when they won their Super 15 clash 36-19 in Invercargill on Saturday.

There were three tries each, including a hat-trick for Highlanders' wing Kade Poki, but the telling difference on the board were the 21 points from Goosen who never missed a shot at goal.

It was the first time in seven attempts the Cheetahs had beaten the Highlanders and they did so against an Otago side brimming with All Blacks talent.

Their seven internationals included captain Andrew Hore, returning after serving a five-match ban for striking Bradley Davies in New Zealand's 33-10 win over Wales last year.

But it was no happy return for the hooker, as the Cheetahs, directed by scrum-half Sarel Pretorius, staggered Otago with a relentless attacking game while their flat defence smothered the Highlanders' attempts to run the ball.

"I'm very happy with the performance. Our defence was up there today, especially our loose forwards," said captain Adriaan Strauss who saw the win as a vital boost for his side after losing their first two matches.

"We needed this win. We've got a couple of youngsters in the squad and we needed a bit of confidence and I think the guys have that belief now."

The Cheetahs took every opportunity gifted to them by the error-riddled Highlanders in the first half as they chalked up a huge 30-7 lead at the turn.

Goosen, who struggled with his goal-kicking in the first two rounds, had his radar firmly locked on target as he landed three penalties and converted all three tries.

Pretorius was first to cross the line, put in the clear by Pieter Labuschagne who easily fended off a Joe Wheeler tackle.

Highlanders fly-half Lima Sopoaga then gave away 14 points in the form of two converted runaway tries.

An attempted chip kick went straight to Robert Ebersohn who ran 60 metres to score and minutes later Pretorius intercepted a floating pass to race 70 metres to the line.

Sopoaga, who did set up Poki for the Highlanders first-half try, was substituted just before half-time by former All Black Colin Slade making a return to rugby after an horrendous injury run over the past two years.

When Poki scored his second try soon after half-time, the Highlanders had hopes of repeating last year's victory in Bloemfontein when they fought back from a 9-30 deficit to win 36-33.

Although they stemmed the Cheetahs try-scoring ability for the remainder of the match the Highlanders only other points came from a late try by Poki converted by Slade while Goosen managed two further penalties for the South Africans.

cf/pj

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130309/rugbyu-goosen-kicks-cheetahs-first-win-over-highlanders