Blue Bulls hold off Cheetahs
Akona Ndungane (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - It may not have been pretty but the Blue Bulls held their own for a 26-10 Currie Cup victory over the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The hosts were given little chance ahead of the clash, but they have shown great character against a quality Cheetahs outfit.
The match was characterised by unforced errors and a fair number of penalties meted out by referee Stuart Berry.
Where the Bulls unceremoniously imploded in their previous two matches, they kept their cool to grind out a victory.
It also took the special place-kicking performance by their teenage flyhalf Handre Pollard, who contributed 16 of his side’s points.
However, this would not have been possible without a dominant effort by the pack of forwards.
Pollard opened the scoring two minutes into the match with a penalty conversion and kept the scoreboard ticking over with his accurate kicking.
However, the Cheetahs replied with a try seven minutes later when wing Riaan Smit went over in the right-hand corner.
The visitors sent the ball through the hands with Sadie tapping the ball to a flying Smit to score the try, with the wing missing with his conversion attempt.
The Bulls started with their slow-poison campaign as their forwards won the small battles, but they could not manage to quite open the gap on the scoreboard.
The Cheetahs came close to scoring another five-pointer six minutes before the end of the half, with centre Robert Ebersohn stopped just short of the line.
Pollard started the second half in the same way he opened the match adding three points to the score to hand his side the lead for the second time in the match.
While the Bulls forwards did all the hard graft, Pollard obliged every time he was asked to go for the penalty conversion.
Four minutes later the 19-year-old extended their lead to 9-5 with a successful penalty conversion and, missed another in the 52nd minute.
Pollard, however, landed his fourth goal four minutes later before the Bulls finally scored their first try of the match in the 63rd minute, and the teenager added the extra two points. Bulls lock Paul Willemse advanced within metres of the line, and only had to stretch out his arm to add the five-pointer.
The Cheetahs launched a fight back with flyhalf Elgar Watts scoring in the 69th minute, but by this time the horse had bolted as he failed with his own conversion attempt.
The hosts put the game to bed when Wian Liebenberg touched down from a rolling maul, with Pollard converting.Scorers:Blue Bulls
Tries: Paul Willemse, Wiaan Liebenberg
Conversions: Handre Pollard (2)
Penalties: Pollard (4)
Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Riaan Smit, Elgar Watts
15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Ulrich Beyers, 22 Clayton BlommetjiesFree State Cheetahs:
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johannes Prinsloo (captain), 5 Lodewyk De Jager, 4 Teboho Mohoje, 3 Rossouw De Klerk, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Substitutes: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Wian Du Preez, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Willie Du Plessis, 22 Piet Lindeque