Cheetahs give Bulls a Currie Cup surprise

The winless Free State Cheetahs overcame the overwhelming pre-match odds to deservedly beat the Blue Bulls 24-15 in a Currie Cup match in Bloemfontein on Friday night and, in doing so, scored three good tries to none.


The victory was built on a solid performance by the home side pack and some excellent tactical play by the former Blue Bulls scrumhalf JP Joubert who controlled the game and used the forward dominance of his pack well.


Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke’s pre-match respect for the Free State side’s forwards was well-founded.


Their physical approach to the breakdown, in particular, seemed to unsettle the Blue Bulls in the first quarter – and with the Free State’s good scrum giving as good as they got the home side also put pressure on the Bulls in this facet.


The brief turnabout by the Blue Bulls before the break was not enough to deny the home side who dominated territory and possession after the break and ran in three good tries to clinch their first win.


The Blue Bulls were under the cosh for a little more than the first quarter, but the scoreboard was on their side as Free State flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter struggled to find the target with his penalty attempts and left his side with a mere drop for their three points at the break when the Blue Bulls led 12-3.


Slowly the visitors regained the upper hand after 30 minutes or so, aided by some good work from Deon Stegmann and centre Stefan Watermeyer with two good runs.


Pedrie Wannenburg’s presence and experience were also noticeable in the tight loose where the Cheetahs’ tight five played as a unit.


The first try of the match, however, came from Man of the Match, Free State prop WP Nel, in the 48th minute, following some excellent work from the two Springboks Kabamba Floors and Jongi Nokwe.


They combined with their international Sevens skills to set up the score, which was all the more impressive as it was achieved during the absence of yellow-carded Robert Ebersohn.


The conversion by Potgieter saw the Free State draw closer on the scoreboard (12-10). But, despite the Free State having a near 70% territorial advantage in the first quarter of the second half, the Blue Bulls, somewhat fortuitously, scored next when Francois Brummer kicked his fifth penalty from five attempts (15-10).


The Cheetahs were getting on top and, not to be outdone, quite deservedly scored in the 60th minute from a tap penalty by the former Blue Bull scrumhalf who drew the defence perfectly before sending Frans Viljoen over.


This time Potgieter converted from the corner to put his team 17-15 ahead.


The Blue Bulls’ earlier fortunes seemed to change as Brummer missed his first from six a minute later just for Potgieter to miss another relatively easy one.


A great 40 metres run by Nel, who was brought down on the Blue Bulls tryline, resulted in a try for their captain Adriaan Strauss and with the conversion it became 24-15 with 11 minutes remaining and no change to the score.


Final Score Cheetahs 24 Blue Bulls 15


Scorers:


Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: WP Nel, Frans Viljoen, Adriaan Strauss.
Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (3).
Drop goal: Potgieter.


Blue Bulls:
Penalties; Francois Brummer (5).

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