Cheetahs, Bulls ponder health

2011-09-10 22:22

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Points gained or points frittered away? Reasonably satisfied handshakes at the final whistle or more like that ill-desired kiss for your sister?

Those were the kinds of thoughts probably occupying the minds of the Absa Currie Cup protagonists in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening, where the Cheetahs and Blue Bulls played out a tense 22-22 draw.

It was just the second stalemate of the campaign, following a 26-26 result between Western Province and Griquas at Newlands on the opening weekend back in mid-July.

The outcome did see the Cheetahs stay in fourth spot and inch two points clear of neighbours Griquas, who had been comfortably beaten on Friday night by a Lions side still holding the top-of-table aces by five points from Province after both teams earned expected full houses this weekend.

But Naka Drotske’s charges would also have so rued allowing the Bulls a dramatic share of the spoils as late as the 82nd minute, when the unpredictable Louis Fouche nailed an impressively high-pressure, long-range penalty to square things up after the visitors had always previously trailed in the key encounter.

The Cheetahs must have felt, for the vast majority of the clash, that they had done enough to win, yet at least made some minor, log-points “progress” in their quest to make the semi-finals despite annoyingly surrendering two at the death.

Similarly nursing bittersweet thoughts, however, would have been the Bulls, who arguably needed a victory with greater urgency, considering their more parlous position in the semis chase – their own two points gained sees them still five points shy of a possible slot in the top four, and a massive 17 adrift of the unrelenting Lions now.

Also to chew on in the respective dressing rooms as the dust settled at Free State Stadium was that both teams have stiff fixtures next week: the Cheetahs entertain the third-placed Sharks in what is always a needle affair, while the Bulls host Province in the time-honoured north versus south slugfest.

Something for the Bulls to take heart from was that they showed enough ticker to get out of the proverbial jailhouse on Saturday: they had been an ominous 19-9 down with around half an hour to go and still making maddening basic errors or falling foul of referee Marius Jonker at the breakdown (their old bugbear) to impede their rhythm.
So not going home empty-handed was a decent enough outcome, coupled with the fact that a victory over WP at Loftus would enormously revitalize their quest for to reach the knockout phase.
That is because the Bulls’ ordinary-season run-in is more favourable on paper than most: while the Lions away remains a potentially nasty hurdle for them, they end their programme with matches against the Pumas, Griquas and Leopards respectively.

“Crisis”, then, can be a relative concept, and also a surprisingly short-lived one in sport.

Back on the Bloemfontein scrap, perhaps the most tormented individual afterwards would have been the Cheetahs’ Baby Bok flyhalf Johan Goosen, who had seemed a slightly surprising retention ahead of Sias Ebersohn -- but enormously justified Drotske’s faith in him on the day.

Apart from kicking flawlessly off the tee and rightly earning some “new De Wet Ras?” suggestions from veteran commentator Hugh Bladen as the youthful customer nonchalantly banged over one from 61 metres, Goosen was also responsible for the beautiful, clean break that led to the Cheetahs’ only try for substitute second-rower Wilhelm Steenkamp.

But this game was so infested with a “mixed fortunes” characteristic that it couldn’t have come as too much of a surprise that the man of the match was reluctantly forced from the field with cramp in the final quarter … when the Bulls’ rearguard action clicked into place.

Next week’s fixtures:
Friday: Leopards v Lions, Potchefstroom
Saturday: Cheetahs v Sharks, Bloemfontein; Griquas v Pumas, Kimberley; Blue Bulls v Western Province, Pretoria.


  • ŸÄ±Kleinboet - 2011-09-11 03:08

    The mighty Bulls will prevail in this CC once again. Like they've done 101 times before

      Adaanb - 2011-09-11 06:23

      Kleinboet - Ek vermoed jy leef in n droom wereld, word wakker " and smell the roses-Die Bulle is in hulle moer!

      Scaramouche - 2011-09-11 07:38

      Ja Boet

      Johann - 2011-09-11 08:41

      @ Kleinboet, word wakker, jou koffie word koud. Cheetahs just fell asleep for a while

      Rob Rabbit - 2011-09-11 09:47

      And Mickey Mouse lives.

      Storm Bru - 2011-09-11 21:57

      And pigs can fly.......

  • Kudubul - 2011-09-11 04:13

    Boring, boring , boring rugby!! watched 2 min. of the game and that was 2 min wasted of my life. please get rid of the bulls team and put a schoolboys team in there, then I might start enjoying my rugby again.

      Scaramouche - 2011-09-11 07:42

      Bit harsh Kudu - if you watched more, you would have enjoyed more. True, both teams played without their big guns, but still a good contest. The Bulls downfall this season appears to be a complete lack of discipline or understanding of the laws.

      Petie - 2011-09-11 14:47

      If this game proved one thing - the Bok team is well rid of Mr F vd Merwe. He manages to cop several penaties and a yellow virtually every game - where is his discipline.

  • BardofAvon - 2011-09-11 07:14

    "nailed an impressively high-pressure, long-range penalty" The writer can't help using the "-ly" words. Even when they are wrong. Eish. Next time: "Impressive" Bard can't for the life him understand why "Chief Writer" (with good content) doesn't want to improve his writing skills. Maybe it's because in the New South Africa, average is the new excellent.

  • Groot Koos - 2011-09-11 14:01

    Get rid of Fouche, he is not a playmaker, send Pine Pienaar back to OFS and let Ludeke earn his money

  • Carl Muller - 2011-09-11 14:15

    Die Bou Bulle is soos 'n broer in die tronk, jy is lief vir hom maar praat nie van hom nie....

      ŸÄ±Kleinboet - 2011-09-12 01:02

      @carl Hi foeitog jou klein biafraan. Daai grappie is so 25 na 30jaar oud. En soos ons almal weet verwys dit na die WP wat in 10 jaar nie een keer die Vodacom of Curriebeker of Super beker kon wen nie. NIE EEN KEER NIE!

      Oukoos - 2011-09-12 09:35

      @ŸÄ±Kleinboet (the fake one) Die regte Kleinboet ('n fanatiese WP ondersteuner) het nou besluit om nie verder aan besprekings deel te neem nie omdat identiteitsdiefstal alle pret uit deelname wegneem Is jy nou tevrede? Wat is jou doelwitte met dié identiteitsdiefstal (m.a.w. hoekom doen jy dit? Sal jy nog meer tevrede wees as jy al die ander deelnemers wegjaag? Is dit jou uiteindelike doelwit? Ons hoor graag jou redes.vir jou dom, kinderagtige gedrag

      jk - 2011-09-12 12:08


  • Oukoos - 2011-09-12 09:23

    Houwing: "...the second stalemate of the campaign...." WTF? The game did not end in a stalemate but in a draw. The term "stalemate" refers to a chess position in which any of a player's possible moves would place his king in check. As this is not allowed, this position results in a draw. Saturday's game was not a stalemate position at all. The Bull could have opted for a run with the ball and a try could have been scored.

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