BLOEMFONTEIN - Flyhalf Chris Noakes scored 17 points in 20 minutes as the Otago Highlanders snatched a dramatic 36-33 victory over the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby encounter on Saturday.
Noakes, who replaced Mike Delany midway through the second half, grabbed a try, three conversions and two penalties including an angled, long-range effort with one minute to go that won the match for the New Zealanders.
The Highlanders had to rally from 30-9 down to record their seventh victory in nine matches and stay five points behind the leaders, the Waikato Chiefs.
The Cheetahs seemed to have the match sewn up when flyhalf Johan Goosen produced a jinking 70-metre try to put his team 28-9 up.
The brilliant 19-year-old, though, injured his shoulder while scoring the touchdown and had to leave the field.
Goosen's withdrawal caused a spectacular turnaround as the Highlanders began throwing the ball around like a Sevens side and were rewarded with three tries in six minutes, two by replacement scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan.
Three penalties and two conversions by Goosen and touchdowns by prop Coenie Oosthuizen and lock Andries Ferreira had appeared to put the Cheetahs in the driving seat.
But Sias Ebersohn, Goosen's replacement, missed three penalties including one easy-looking kick.