Munster have suffered their first Guinness PRO14 loss of the season after a 40-16 result against an in-form Cheetahs side at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein.
Captain Billy Holland came into the side as one of five changes to the team that beat Southern Kings last week with Bleyendaal, Nick McCarthy, Jeremy Loughman and Rhys Marshall also included.
Tyler Bleyendaal kicked three penalties for Munster in the defeat with Dan Goggin scoring a late try but a Cheetahs side that had scored 109 points in their opening two games secured their third bonus-point win of the season.
Munster found themselves on the back foot from the start as Jeremy Loughman was harshly penalised for not rolling away and Cheetahs went for the corner.
Referee Mike Adamson then sin-binned Rhys Marshall for taking down the rolling maul with prop Ox Nche scoring shortly afterwards despite the best efforts of Holland.
Munster put up a solid defensive effort with the remaining time with 14 men and Bleyendaal slotted over a tricky penalty on 21 minutes and a second three-pointer for offside before the half-hour.
Junior Pokomela dived over in the right corner for Cheetahs’ second try on 33 minutes after the hosts worked an overlap to increase their lead.
Bleyendaal kept Munster in the game with another penalty late in the half reduced the deficit to three, 12-9 the halftime score. Munster were inches from levelling the scores on 43 minutes but Bleyendaal’s penalty came back off the post and Cheetahs were in for try number three just minutes later.
Excellent attacking from the Cheetahs on turnover ball saw the hosts show great hands to keep the ball alive with William Small-Smith scoring in the right corner. Pienaar’s touchline conversion gave Cheetahs a 19-9 lead.
Joseph Dweba scored the bonus-point try on 56 minutes off a rolling maul when Munster again fell foul of the officials, this time after winning back possession at the breakdown as Mike Haley was penalised for not rolling away. Pienaar was again on target to make it 26-9.
Munster failed to capitalise with an attacking scrum just inside the Cheetahs 22 but the hosts were awarded the scrum penalty to release the pressure.
Cheetahs were over for their fifth try on 71 minutes as they took a quick tap and Jasper Wiese scored. The referee and TMO checked for foul play in the build-up due to foul play on Kevin O’Byrne but nothing untoward was spotted and the score was awarded.
Munster kept battling and Goggin showed great fight to fend off a defender strongly and score the province’s first try after excellent footwork from Shane Daly in midfield. The TMO was again consulted for a possible obstruction in the build-up but the score stood and Hanrahan added the extras with the boot.
The Cheetahs wrapped up an ideal evening in front of their home fans when Rhyno Smith scored in the final play to round off a deserved win for the hosts. Academy prop Keynan Knox made his second PRO14 appearance off the bench while Calvin Nash featured for the first time this season.
Next up for Munster will be Ospreys at Irish Independent Park on Friday, October 25th at 7:35 pm.