FS knock out bumbling Bulls
Robert Ebersohn (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein - The Free State Cheetahs secured a Currie Cup semi-final berth after beating the Blue Bulls 22-7 (half-time 10-7) in their all-important encounter at the Free State Stadium on Saturday.
The hosts had only to score a single log point against the Bulls, but instead managed four that resulted in them cementing their place in the knockout stages. The Bulls - who had to win with a bonus point and prevent the Cheetahs from getting any points - had the odds against them and in the end it was all too much for them.
The hosts started at a frantic pace and put the Bulls under pressure early on. The pressure was converted into penalties for the hosts, but flyhalf Elgar Watts struggled to kick at goal and six points were squandered.
It was Watts however who helped his side to the first points of the match when he broke through the Bulls' defence in the ninth minute to put his centre Robert Ebersohn under the uprights. Watts converted.
Watts kicked his third penalty attempt shortly after, as the Cheetahs succeeded in keeping the Bulls on the back foot. That gave the hosts a comfortable 10-point lead early on and left the visitors to regroup under the uprights. The visitors did succeed in launching a couple of good attacks, but they seldom progressed further than the Cheetahs 22m line.
The hosts were ferocious on attack in the first half and it reflected on the scoreboard. The Cheetahs also succeeded in their attempts to counter the Bulls' driving mauls and on many occasions smothered any chance at points from that facet of play for the visitors.
The Bulls had the final say in the first half however, putting their first points on the board on the stroke of half-time. Prop Marcel van der Merwe scored for the visitors after the Bulls tried on numerous times to breach the Cheetahs defensive line.
Flyhalf Handré Pollard converted to give the Bulls more to smile about with the half-time score 10-7 in the hosts favour.
The Bulls looked better when the second half commenced, but silly penalties again supplied the Cheetahs with enough attacking ball. But the men from Pretoria soon started to struggle again, as shown when a silly little box-kick by Bulls centre Jan
Serfontein was intercepted and a try scored by Elgar Watts under the posts. Watts converted to again stretch his side's lead to ten points.
The Bulls tried to hit back, but they lacked any finesse on attack, knocking on several balls The Cheetahs were outstanding on defence, preventing the visitors from scoring.
Springbok hooker and Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss
scored near the end to put the result beyond any doubt. That was after replacement prop Schalk van der Merwe was red carded for a spear tackle. The Bulls couldn't capitalise on the overlap however.
Scorers:Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Robert Ebersohn, Elgar Watts, Adriaan Strauss
Conversions: Watts (2)
Penalty: WattsBlue Bulls:
Try: Marcel van der Merwe
Conversion: Handré PollardTeams:Free State Cheetahs:
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius
, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss
(captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 AJ Le Roux, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Teboho Mohoje, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Johan Goosen, 22 Willie du PlessisBlue Bulls:
15 Jurgen Visser
, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht
, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige
, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht
, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross
(captain), 5 David Bullbring
, 4 Paul Willemse
, 3 Frik Kirsten
, 2 Bongi Mbonambi
, 1 Marcel van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16 Bandise Maku
, 17 Werner Kruger
, 18 Grant Hattingh
, 19 Jean Cook
, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Francois Venter, 22 Clayton Blommetjies