Pretoria - Flyhalf Tian Schoeman scored 22 points to guide the Blue Bulls to a 44-21 victory over the Free State XV in their Vodacom Cup quarter-final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday night.
The Blue Bulls led 17-9 at half-time.
The Blue Bulls set the opening tempo of the match when lock Nqubeko Zulu snuck through a breakdown to make good inroads upfield. Free State were the first to score through flyhalf Willie du Plessis who kicked a penalty goal after the home team were blown for playing a man in the air.
The Blue Bulls' intent to play a running game was ignited after wing Jamba Ulengo twinkled toed his way past a few defenders and raced up field. He was caught by a scrambling Free State defence but managed to offload where the ball finally found flank Wiaan Liebenberg who barged over a would be tackler to score. Schoeman made easy work of the conversion to give his team a four point lead.
Du Plessis pulled back three points with a penalty goal but the Blue Bulls replied through a magnificently taken lineout. Schoeman fed the ball to centre William Small-Smith who ghosted through the defence to score untouched. Schoeman knocked over the conversion.
The final ten minutes of the half saw the two 10s trade a penalty each as the teams headed into the break with the scoreboard reading 17-9 in favour of the Blue Bulls.
Schoeman kicked a penalty goal early in the second half but it was Ulengo who showed his pedigree in setting up Small-Smith's second try. The winger chased down his own kick before throwing a no-look pass to his centre who dotted down. Schoeman maintained his flawless performance with the boot to convert.
A botched pass after the restart allowed Free State to keep the Blue Bulls under pressure in their 22. The visitors kicked for the corner from a penalty and flank Gerhard Olivier scored from the resulting driving maul. Du Plessis could not add the extras.
Schoeman pierced the uprights moments later with another penalty before throwing off the defence with a cut-out pass to Small-Smith who scored his hat-trick after 60 minutes. Schoeman added the conversion to give the Blue Bulls an unassailable 37-14 lead.
The match was lulled into a scrappy affair before Free State centre Joubert Engelbrecht fended off the defence to score in the corner. Replacement flyhalf Neil Marais had no problem in converting the touchline kick.
Schoeman capped off a great outing to score a try of his own after breaking through the defence and replacement flyhalf Kobus Marais had the final say with his conversion to give his team a 44-21 win.Scorers:
Tries: Wiaan Liebenberg, William Small-Smith (3), Tian Schoeman
Conversions: Schoeman (4), Kobus Marais
Penalties: Schoeman (3)
Free State XV
Tries: Gerhard Olivier, Joubert Engelbrecht
Conversion: Neil Marais
Penalties: Willie du Plessis (3)