Bulls hold off Cheetahs

The Bulls held on the face of a fierce late charge to edge the Cheetahs 24-20 in their Super 14 Round Two match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

The Bulls outscored the Cheetahs by three tries to two, but the Cheetahs’ touchdowns both came in the final 11 minutes.

The Bulls and the Cheetahs came head to head in a physical South Africa derby encounter that was a repeat of the thrilling Currie Cup Final in 2006.

That game ended in a draw and the teams were left sharing the trophy. It came as no surprise then that both sides had a score to settle, and the Super 14 battle at Loftus Versfeld was the place to do it.

Bulls and Cheetahs fans made sure their wasn’t an empty seat in the stadium, and the players made sure they didn’t disappoint their supports.

The game also saw three tries being scored by as many props – always a wonderful sight to see, especially when one of them runs 45 meters downfield to score one of them!

The match was certainly a game of two halves. The first half living up to the pre-match hype as a tight encounter and the second opening up to four fantastic tries being scored.

As far as dominance in the two halves were concerned – the Cheetahs stole the show for the majority of the first half, shutting the Bulls out with tremendous tackles and using their backline to good effect.

Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus would have been pleased with the way the game was going as his side enjoyed the majority of the possession.

Perhaps the visitors could have turned a bit more of their possession into points as Cheetahs skipper Juan Smith opted on more than one occasion to go for a try when the three points were staring his side in the face.

In a tight encounter like this one, it is paramount that a side takes the points when they get given them…especially when there is only six points separating the two teams.

However, with the way the Cheetahs were dominating all facets of play in the middle of the field, perhaps Smith thought they could do the same when they were closer to the Bulls line. He was wrong.

Though it wasn’t the best reflection of the half, the Bulls managed a touchdown in the dying minutes to take a 7-6 lead into the break.

The late try, it seems, certainly helped take the momentum with them into the second half.

All the Cheetahs hard work in the scrums and getting to the breakdowns quicker than their opponents, seemed to evaporate as the Bulls’ game-pan finally started to take effect.

With Bulls scrum-half Fourie du Preez and fly-half Morne Steyn showing off their instrumental kicking abilities, the Cheetahs were always put on the backfoot.

The line-outs turned to be a miserable state of affairs for the men from Bloemfontein, and even Rassie Erasmus’s famous disco lights couldn’t save his team from losing ball after ball.

But the Cheetahs never gave up and were on hand to cause yet another incredible comeback like they have done so many times before against their high veld rivals, with just four points separating the two teams at the end of a thrilling encounter.

Springbok Meyer Bosman got the Cheetahs off to the start they were looking for when he managed to make amends for an earlier miss at goal.

Bosman was on hand to extend that lead just minutes later after Bulls new signing Wikus Van Heerdan was blown up for holding on to the ball after his team were scrummed off their feet.

Steyn’s attempts at goal weren’t as successful, with the Bulls pivot missing a penalty and a drop-goal in the opening spell.

Cheetahs prop and most crowds’ favourite son Ollie Le Roux was a thorn in the Bulls backside as the prop scrummed like a man possessed and tackelled like a demon.

However, his hard work couldn’t keep Bulls prop Wessel Roux from bashing his way over the Cheetahs’ whitewash six minutes from half-time.

The visitors

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