Cheetahs’ plan to counter Bulls pack paid dividends
Bloemfontein - The Cheetahs' plan to move the big Bulls forward pack around the park paid dividends, skipper Torsten van Jaarsveld says.
As it happened: Cheetahs 34-28 Bulls
The Cheetahs attacked relentlessly in the first half and defended superbly after the break to claim a 34-28 Super Rugby victory at home against the Bulls on Saturday.
In a South African derby of contrasting halves, the Cheetahs scored four converted tries to lead 28-14 at the break.
It was a different story in the second half, though, as the Bulls dominated possession and territory and two converted tries in quick succession narrowed the gap to three points.
But the Cheetahs held their nerve and flyhalf Fred Zeilinga completed a flawless goal-kicking performance with his second penalty of the half to double the lead.
Victory was a huge relief for the hosts after starting the season last weekend with an unlucky home loss to 2016 runners-up the Lions.
For the second successive weekend the three-time former champion Bulls paid dearly for a sluggish first half, having begun their campaign with a loss at the Stormers.
"Character earned us this victory," Van Jaarsveld, deputising for the injured Francois Venter, said.
"Our plan was to move the huge Bulls forwards around the heavy field to tire them, and it worked.
"I am disappointed that we left points on the field for the second match in a row. We have got to be more clinical."
Bulls skipper and flyhalf Handre Pollard, a Springbok slowly regaining form after missing last season through injury, lamented another poor first half showing.
"It was the same story as last weekend, falling far behind and then playing catch-up.
"We cannot continue like this - showing great character but losing matches. Even when playing second fiddle in the first half, there were chances we did not take."
Man-of-the-match Oupa Mohoje scored two tries, with Clinton Swart and Justin Basson adding one each for the winners while Zeilinga slotted four conversions and two penalties.
Jason Jenkins, Piet van Zyl and Jamba Ulengo were Bulls' try scorers. Tian Schoeman kicked two conversions and Pollard three penalties.
In next weekend's action, the Cheetahs host the Sunwolves, while the Bulls have a bye.