UB Rhinos put up a brave fight against Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) Super rugby league defending champions, BDF Cheetahs despite going down 17-14 during a league match played on Saturday.
The match went for recess with Rhinos leading with two tries scored by former Cheetahs player, Keorapetse Lesotlho. Rhinos’ try was scored a few minutes into the first half after Lesotlho caught Cheetahs back line napping.
The score brought confidence to his fellow teammates.
Cheetahs were struggling to connect in the middle of the park and failed to catch the balls. Rhinos launched attack after Mani Mani won the ball from the scrum.
He was unlucky as he fell right in the opponents’ defence. Cheetahs’ right flanker, Ketshidile Matenanga nearly gave his side their first try in the 15th minute only to be brought down a few metres from the touchline. Cheetahs slowly got back into the game. Mathews Masike who was playing as a right wing was unlucky after a break through with Rhinos defence clearing him.
Rhinos’ penalty was wasted by Tshoganetso Katse as he kicked wild in the 23rd minute. Cheetahs coach, Seabe Gabatadiwe was forced to make substitutions towards the end of the first half.
The second half started with Cheetahs winning a penalty and it was scored by Edward Oosthuizen. The score brought panic into Rhinos players and Cheetahs started piling pressure on them. Lesotlho went ahead to score the second try for Rhinos with Kaelo Mogotsi scoring the conversion. Cheetahs were unshaken as Elijah Radihepi hit the touchline
Cheetahs coach, Gabatladiwe told Sport Monitor that his players were still rusty and did not expect his opponents to start the game on high gear.
“I started my game with players from B side because we still have a long way to go. After realising that Rhinos wanted to run away with the match I introduced senior players. I also used a new formation that my players are not used to,” Gabatladiwe said.
Rhinos coach, Thataone Malele said the game went according to plan only to be let down by fitness in the dying minutes of the game. He said Cheetahs took advantage of their tired legs to win the match.
“Lack of depth killed us because some of our players had work commitments. Some players that played were in the previous match of the B division. The substitutions that I made did not execute the game plan,” he said.
Cheetahs: Ephuis Malomo, Thebeetsile Sedimo, Oarabile Chiche, Ernest Eddy, Aubrey Selelo, Kagisi Ditsebe, Matenanga, Lempaletse Ngaka, Khumoetsile Ntwaetsile, Omphile Kebobate, Radihepi, Oosthuizen, Stanley Simon, Masike and Lekgobo Bafana.
Rhinos: Thato Maifala, Bonolo Khiwa, Chaba Ebineng, Ronald Modise, Bame Gaonyadiwe, Botho Pofelo, Mothonye Simon, Ntebogang Mathaka, Mani, Katse, Osi Kopano, Mogotsi, Lesotlho, Phazha Itari and Mzwandile Monyamane.