Ulster pull out 39-39 draw against Cheetahs

Ulster have maintained their position at top of Conference B
Ulster have maintained their position at top of Conference B

Cheetahs 39-39 Ulster, Bloemfontein

Ulster maintained their unbeaten streak in the ongoing season of Pro14 as they managed to pull out a thrilling 39-39 draw in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Cheetahs thought they had their first win in the competition when they had a seven point lead with one minute left in the game but a late try from Henry Speight followed by a conversion from Billy Burns meant the teams had to share the points.

With 15 points from four games, Ulster have maintained their position at top of the Conference B while Toyota Cheetahs are languishing at the bottom of Conference A with four points.

The home side started the game with a second minute try from Gerhardus Olivier and fly-half Tian Schoeman slotted the conversion to make it 7-0 but two minutes later David Shanahan crossed over for the visitors that was improved by Billy Burns as the scores were levelled 7-7.

Schoeman put the Irish side back into the lead with his first penalty kick in the 19th minute but Ulster doubled their total by the 22nd minute with Shanahan crossing over for the second time and once again Burns kicked the extras to make it 10-14.

As the half-time was approaching, Cheetahs once again seized the lead with their second try in the game that came from winger William Small-Smith in the 38th minute with Schoeman converting it to make the scoreline 17-14 before the break.

Burns once again helped Ulster level the scores with an early penalty goal in the second half but their momentum was dented when Alan O'Connor was sin-binned in the 52nd minute. Cheetahs made use of the numerical advantage as Joseph Dweba dotted down in the 53rd minute for an unconverted try but another penalty kick from Burns brought the gap down to 22-20.

Replacement Jacques Du Toit provided Cheetahs some advantage when he strolled over the line in the 64th minute but Ulster's response came three minutes later when Jonny Stewart touched down as the scores became 29-25 heading into the final 10 minutes.

With all three results possible, Cheetahs were reduced to 14-men for the final seven minutes when replacement Charles Marias was yellow-carded and to make things worse, a penalty try was awarded to the visitors as the scoreline became 29-32 but despite the setback the South African side dominated the next five minutes that saw Sibhale Maxwane score a try and Louis Fouche kicked a conversion and a penalty to make it 39-32.

However, Speight had other plans as his last-gasp try got Ulster to two point difference before Burns controlled his nerve to kick the decisive conversion to complete a draw.