Highlanders run Cheetahs ragged in SR

May 16, 2015 - 7:31 PM Ryan Tongia and Aaron Smith bagged try-scoring doubles as the Highlanders whipped the Cheetahs 45-24 in Bloemfontein to improve their Super Rugby play-off chances.

The New Zealand side conjured seven tries in a scoreline which flattered the hosts, whose three tries all came in the last 15 minutes.

It continues the Highlanders' perfect record of five-from-five in Bloemfontein, bouncing back from last weekend's loss to the Lions to remain third in the New Zealand conference and fifth overall with an 8-4 win-loss record.

Defeat effectively ends the play-off hopes of the 12th-placed Cheetahs, who have won four of 12 games.

They have the worst defence in the competition and were routinely prised open by the expansive play of the Highlanders, who raced 26-3 clear at halftime and led 38-3 entering the final quarter.

Winger Tongia made a dream start to his Super Rugby debut game, crossing twice in the first 17 minutes.

A cross-kick from influential five-eighth Lima Sopoaga created the first before Tongia's own chip and chase sent him over soon afterwards.

All Blacks halfback Smith and wing Patrick Osborne crossed before halftime to secure a bonus point.

A yellow card to Cheetahs winger Raymond Rhule soon after the break helped the Highlanders cross twice more, through Smith and flanker Gareth Evans, the latter from a sweeping 85m play.

Winger Rayno Benjamin, Carl Wegner and centre Francois Venter helped restore some Cheetahs respectability with tries before Highlanders fullback Ben Smith had the final say.

Source: AAP

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