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Cheetahs beat Stormers 35-22 in battle of Super Rugby strugglers

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BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa - The Cheetahs collected their first win in Super Rugby since February and lifted themselves off the bottom of the table by beating fellow South African strugglers the Stormers 35-22 on Saturday.

The Cheetahs rebounded from an early try to Stormers flanker Nizaam Carr with five of their own for a bonus-point win at Free State Stadium.

Fullback Hennie Daniller, centre Rayno Benjamin and Springbok utility back Willie le Roux went over in the first 40 to set up only the Bloemfontein-based team's second victory of the season and first since round two on Feb. 21. Replacements Cornal Hendricks and Trevor Nyakane sealed victory in the last 10 minutes, with Hendricks' 70-meter breakaway securing the four-try bonus point.

Young winger Devon Williams marked his first start for the Stormers with a 61st-minute run in to close it to 23-15. But Hendricks profited 10 minutes later when a promising Stormers attack was broken up 10 metres out from the Cheetahs line and the sevens specialist chipped ahead and collected, and raced away from the cover defence.

Front-rower Nyakane bustled over from close range in the 76th before Springboks captain Jean de Villiers scored a late consolation for the Stormers.

A seventh loss in nine games saw the Cape Town-based Stormers slip back to the bottom of the standings, replacing the Cheetahs, who have won two out of 10 with one draw.

The Cheetahs hadn't won since beating the Bulls over two months ago, and briefly struggled with the pace of the Stormers' start as Carr went over under the crossbar. The Stormers were 10-0 up with a Peter Grant penalty before the Cheetahs clicked into gear.

Daniller scored after collecting a cross-kick in the corner, and Benjamin rounded off a move involving le Roux and flanker Heinrich Brussow. Le Roux darted through a gap just before halftime for a 20-10 lead for the Cheetahs at the break.

Williams showed his promise with a smooth finish after de Villiers' break but the free-running Cheetahs responded with two more tries to brighten their mood and deepen the Stormers' gloom.

After 11 rounds, South Africa's Sharks still lead Super Rugby ahead of Australia's ACT Brumbies and New Zealand's Hurricanes. The Western Force, defending champion Chiefs and New South Wales Waratahs round out the playoff positions.

___

Scores:

Cheetahs 35 (Hennie Daniller, Rayno Benjamin, Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Trevor Nyakane tries; Elgar Watts 2 conversions, 2 penalties), Stormers 22 (Nizaam Carr, Devon Williams, Jean de Villiers tries; Peter Grant conversion, penalty, Kurt Coleman conversion). HT: 20-10.

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