Pretoria – The Blue Bulls claimed a hard-fought 24-17 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in Pretoria on Friday evening for their fifth straight Currie Cup win of the season.
The first quarter of the match saw the boys from Bloemfontein doing most of the attacking with the Bulls biding their time.
Their patience finally paid off as they scored from a turnover from fiery flanker Roelof Smith.
The ball landed in the hands of the fleet-footed Jamba Ulengo, who made the break cutting to the inside before offloading to Warrick Gelant.
Gelant in turn found Burger Odenaal, who crossed the whitewash for the first try of the evening, with flyhalf Tian Shoeman missing the conversion.
The Cheetahs were overshadowed at the breakdown with Smith an imposing figure in this area while he was also menacing on defence.
Seven minutes before the break Cheetahs prop Luan de Bruin was binned for charging Francois Hougaard late and without the ball.
His time spent on the side-line was of little consequence as the Cheetahs conceded a penalty which Schoeman converted to stretch the lead to 11-0.
The Cheetahs responded cleverly with a deep kick from the restart as they pinned the Bulls in their 22 and when they got their hands on the ball they capitalised.
Scrumhalf Shaun Venter, who was threatening around the fringes throughout the match, sold a dummy before offloading to Rayno Benjamin for the try with Fred Zeilinga converting.
A Zeilinga penalty conversion four minutes into the second half cut the deficit to one point with the scores remaining at 11-10 in the Bulls’ favour until the 67th minute.
Replacing Tian Schoeman at flyhalf, Louis Fouche had an immediate impact, slotting a penalty to extend the Bulls' lead to four points.
The hosts finally found the breakthrough 10 minutes from time with Jan Serfontein, who had been a livewire since appearing off the bench, playing a leading role in their second try.
While Serfontein made the initial break it was Gelant who danced his way through the Cheetahs defence before Dries Swanepoel scored with Fouche coverting.
After being denied two minutes earlier the Cheetahs finally scored their second try of the evening four minutes from time as Sias Ebersohn took a quick tap to score under the posts while Blommetjies kicked the conversion.
Although the Cheetahs kept on probing for the breakthrough it was Fouche that had the last say on the 80-minute mark as he succeeded with a penalty conversion to end the game.
Tries: Burger Odendaal, Dries Swanepoel
Conversions: Louis Fouche
Penalties: Schoeman (2), Louis Fouche (2)
Tries: Rayno Benjamin, Sias Ebersohn
Conversions: Fred Zeilinga, Clayton Blommetjies