Bulls too good for Cheetahs
Polokwane - The Bulls were impressive despite some rusty patches in a convincing 39-16 win over the Cheetahs at Peter Mokaba Stadium here on Saturday.
For the Cheetahs, their best spell in the game came in the final quarter after both sides' coaches had made major changes.
Though, the Bulls went on to finish off the match with a scintillating try by Zane Kirchner following a backline move marked by pace, good handling and excellent back-up.
With both sides showing new faces, the Pretoria outfit was the happier of the two as their forwards seldom reflected the loss of stalwarts like Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and front rowers, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Gary Botha.
Behind the pack, Francois Hougaard cleaned quickly and used the possession to good effect, though, there is still much to build on in terms of cohesion.
Conversely, the Cheetahs backs seldom showed their pace, more especially as they struggled for good possession.
The first-half belonged to the Bulls, who could have been further ahead than the 16-9 interval score.
However, the Cheetahs did reflect a well-organised defence that seldom wilted under the Bulls onslaught.
It was at scrum time where the Bulls impressed, with their only first-half try coming from the facet allowing Hougaard to collect and break on the loosehead side.
The Springbok off-loaded to an impressive CJ Stander to round off the 40 metre try.
Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen provided six of their nine early points with two mammoth 60 metre penalties.
Then both sides opted to make changes in the second-half to give as many players possible valuable game time.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke replaced tighthead Werner Kruger - who had a back spasm in the week - at half-time, with Frik Kirsten coming on at tighthead.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské followed suit, most noticeably moving WP Nel to loosehead prop.
Eightman Davon Raubenheimer and flank Ashley Johnson swapped places with Tewis de Bruyn coming on at scrumhalf.
Ten minutes after the major shuffles took place, Goosen scored after a short kick from within his own half, with kind bounce also allowing him in under the posts.
Tries: CJ Stander, Dean Greyling and Zane Kirchner.
Conversions: Morné Steyn (2), Louis Fouché
Penalties: Steyn (5), Fouché (1)
Try: Johan Goosen
Penalties: Goosen (3)
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle (captain), 1 Dean Greyling.
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Pieter van Zyl, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Philip van der Walt, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Andries Strauss, 23 Hennie Daniller.
Referee: Jaco Peyper.