Wales On Sunday - - SPORT ON SUNDAY -

CARDIFF Blues never re­cov­ered from an­other slug­gish start as the Chee­tahs cel­e­brated their first Guin­ness PRO14 vic­tory of the cam­paign in Bloem­fontein.

John Mul­vi­hill’s men were sec­ond best for long pe­ri­ods at the Toy­ota Sta­dium and strug­gled to cope with the pace of the dan­ger­ous home run­ners.

Once again, they had their chances, but af­ter con­ced­ing two early tries - just like they did against Glas­gow in Europe six days ear­lier - they were un­able to get close to their hosts.

It was a per­for­mance the Arms Park side will be keen to for­get.

They lacked a spark in the open­ing half, made countless er­rors and squan­dered op­por­tu­ni­ties when they arose.

With the bench mak­ing an im­pact, the Blues did come back into the con­test in the fi­nal 15 min­utes, aided by a charged-down score from re­place­ment Samu Manoa.

But they lacked any sort of killer in­stinct and can have no ar­gu­ments about leav­ing South Africa empty handed.

Af­ter the events of the Cham­pi­ons Cup de­feat last week­end, Mul­vi­hill would have stressed the im­por­tance of a fast start on the High Veldt, where tem­per­a­tures had risen to 33 de­grees on the day of the game.

But just like against Glas­gow, the Blues didn’t ap­pear to wake up un­til they were two tries down.

Scrum-half Shaun Ven­ter picked up at a ruck 40 me­tres out to race in un­op­posed for the first, then fly­ing wing Rabz Maxwane latched onto his own kick ahead for the sec­ond with barely 10 min­utes on the clock.

The Blues replied with a Steve Shin­gler penalty and should have re­duced the ar­rears fur­ther, but were un­able to take a cou­ple of golden op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Robin­son was hauled down ag­o­nis­ingly short af­ter clever work from Mor­gan, then two at­tack­ing line-outs mal­func­tioned, the sec­ond with dis­as­trous con­se­quences.

With two min­utes left be­fore the break, the Blues looked to be rum­bling to­wards the home line.

How­ever, a stray Chee­tahs hand man­aged to dis­lodge the ball, it squirted into the hands of Ven­ter, who found fly­ing ma­chine Maxwane on his out­side.

There was only one win­ner af­ter that with the speed­ster rac­ing the length of the field for his sev­enth try of the sea­son.

Trail­ing 21-3 at half-time, the Blues des­per­ately needed to find some sort of flu­ency, but their dis­play con­tin­ued to be rid­dled with er­rors.

Their kick-chase was also poor, hand­ing an open in­vi­ta­tion to the Chee­tahs’ dan­ger­ous back-field run­ners.

Af­ter the South Africans had a try ruled out for off­side, the Blues found them­selves liv­ing dan­ger­ously on their own line.

They were in­debted to a Robin­son turnover to pre­vent fur­ther dam­age and it ap­peared only a mat­ter of time be­fore the Chee­tahs were cel­e­brat­ing again.

In­stead, the Blues, with their scrum be­com­ing more of an in­flu­ence, grabbed a life­line in un­ex­pected cir­cum­stances.

Out of nowhere, re­place­ment Samu Manoa charged down Schoe­man’s at­tempted clear­ance, with the Amer­i­can in­ter­na­tional win­ning the race to the touch down.

Shin­gler’s con­ver­sion made it 21-10 with 15 min­utes re­main­ing, but that was as good as it got for the Welsh side.

Joseph Dweba of the Toy­ota Chee­tahs breaks through theBlues de­fence

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