Cheetahs beat Blue Bulls in Currie Cup

The Free State Cheetahs shocked the Blue Bulls in a Currie Cup match at Loftus on Saturday when replacement flyhalf Sias Ebersohn slotted the winning conversion five minutes after regular time to give his side a 25-23 victory after trailing throughout.


This was the defending champions Bulls’ second successive loss and especially costly as it was a home match – and it was only their third loss at home in more than two seasons.


Full marks must go to the Free State pack that stood their ground even when they were out-scrummed towards the end and for the continuity they showed when it mattered.


With the Blue Bulls up 23-15 and only four minutes remaining, it seemed all over when Ebersohn slotted a penalty and then converted the equalling try by replacement hooker Skipper Badenhorst from the touchline.


It was thrilling stuff – and very, very hard throughout as the two packs climbed into one another with hard hits marking the defence from both sides in what was easily the best Currie Cup match in the three rounds played so far.


It was a hard-fought battle from the outset. As they did in last year’s final, the Blue Bulls again ran up a good early lead and were up 10-0 within the first eight minutes. As much as this would have pleased the Bulls, the loss of their number one fetcher Deon Stegmann in this time off-set their early advantage.


It was also an interesting contrast of styles as the Bulls drove around the edges and used their game plan of the up-and-under coming down just outside the Free State 22 to good effect in the first half. The Free Staters on the other hand tried to run and were fairly effective. But they did not shy away from the hard stuff and also drove well when it mattered.


In fact, the near-try that nearly brought them the lead halfway through the second half came from such a forward drive with the big prop Coenie Oosthuizen just short. A minute later, Oosthuizen was again short with the TMO in both cases making the call.


Good defence by the Blue Bulls kept the Free State out, and eventually Louis Strydom had to kick his fifth penalty to give them a reward for their efforts.


The score then was 16-15 to the Blue Bulls – and then Jacques-Louis Potgieter missed a very kickable opportunity to put his side further ahead just before commencement of the last quarter.


With the Bulls scrum becoming dominant, they took the game to the Free State. For the next five minutes, the Blue Bulls turned the tables with forward drive after drive and outstanding continuity. Stefan Watermeyer eventually scored after a pass that was fortuitously tapped back into his hands. With Potgieter converting the Blue Bulls were 23-15 ahead.


And then came that great fight back – and the 121 tackles the Bulls had to make compared to the 72 times Free State had to tackle probably tell the story of how running the ball succeeded this time – although that in itself didn’t bring the tries that could have clinched it earlier.


Final Score Blue Bulls 23 Cheetahs 25


Scorers


Blue Bulls:
Tries: Kuun, Watermeyer
Cons: Potgieter 2
Pens: Potgieter 3


Free State Cheetahs:
Try: Badenhorst
Con: S Ebersohn
Pens: Strydom 5, S Ebersohn

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