Bulls hold Cheetahs at bay
Pretoria - The Bulls put an end to an impressive four match winning streak of the Cheetahs with another clinical performance which saw the defending champions bag a 32-21 victory at Loftus on Saturday.
The stars of the show, flanks Danie Rossouw and Ashley Johnson, who each crossed the try line on two occasions, stood tall in what was certainly not the most entertaining match of the weekend.
Johnson's second try of the night was scored under the uprights and came in the 65th minute when his side had already been reduced to 14 men.
Cheetahs prop Coenie Oosthuizen had earlier been sin-binned for tackling Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner in the air.
The Bulls won this match at the line-outs where skipper Victor Matfield reigned supreme over Martin Muller.
They stole no less than five balls from this set piece and were also in uncompromising mood at the scrums where Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling took charge of proceedings.
The Bulls' front row neutralised several of the more powerful weapons in the Cheetahs armoury, while some outstanding cover defence ensured that the visiting side remained scoreless until the 52nd minute.
In the first half, the Bulls struck early with a superb try by wing Bjorn Basson, but could only add three more points, courtesy of a Morné Steyn penalty to enjoy a 11-0 lead at halftime.
While Johnson again delivered a performance which would have impressed the Springbok selectors, it was Rossouw's brute strength at the contact area which put his side on the front foot.
That Rossouw is still starting off the bench is a mystery.
And although there were a few occasions where the brilliance of the Ebersohn brothers shone for the Cheetahs, one of the most important moments of the match came courtesy of scrumhalf Francois Hougaard who scored the bonus point try after the full-time siren had sounded.
This win has put the Bulls right back into the Super Rugby race after a very disappointing start to the season.
The Bulls are currently placed seventh on the combined Super Rugby log with 45 points and face the sixth-placed Waratahs in Pretoria next week.
Bulls: Tries - Danie Rossouw (2), Bjorn Basson, Francois Hougaard. Conversions - Morné Steyn (3). Penalties - Steyn (2).
Cheetahs: Tries - Ashley Johnson (2), Sias Ebersohn. Conversions - Sias Ebersohn (3).
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Gerhard van den Heever
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Corné Uys, 11 Philip Snyman, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Kabamba Floors, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen/Hendrik Roodt, 19 Johan Wessels, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Hennie Daniller