The Bulls ended their Super Rugby season with a 43-17 bonus-point victory over the Cheetahs at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
A brace apiece from Travis Ismaiel and Renaldo Bothma was backed up by Jamba Ulengo’s late try as the Bulls finished with a big win.
In contrast, the Cheetahs’ Super Rugby campaign ends on a sour note as Clayton Blommetjies and Carl Wegner’s efforts came in vain.
Both teams were playing for pride as the Bulls knew they could not make the knockout stage following the Sharks’ win over the Sunwolves on Friday. The Cheetahs meanwhile had just four victories to their name in 2016 and were determined not to end the campaign with another loss.
Things didn’t look good for the hosts when fly-half Tian Schoeman sent over two penalty goals in the second and 14th minute to make it 6-0.
Fortunately for the Cheetahs their own kicker, Fred Zeilinga, responded on 21 minutes after a scrum penalty. That cut the deficit to three.
But then came a wonderful spell for the Bulls as confidence with ball in hand resulted in a smooth passage out to wing Ismaiel, who finished strongly over the top of Cheetahs full-back Blommetjies. Fly-half Schoeman couldn’t add the extra points from the touchline so it was 11-3.
Three minutes later it was 18-3 and this try came too easily from the point of the Cheetahs, with number eight Bothma racing over after he hit a good line off the top of a line-out. Questions would have be asked of the home defence under the posts as Schoeman kicked the two.
The Bulls extended their lead nine minutes after the break thanks to the boot of Schoeman, but when a flat pass sent Cheetahs full-back Blommetjies over the whitewash for a converted try only four minutes later, suddenly the home team were back in the derby contest at 10-21.
That didn’t last long though as a moment Blommetjies will want to forget saw him collared by Ismaiel in his 22 before Bothma pounced at the resulting ruck, scavenging the ball for his second. With Schoeman adding a penalty to go with that conversion the Bulls were cruising.
They were not done there as Ismaiel crossed for his own brace with 14 minutes left before replacement Wegner scored for the Cheetahs.
But wing Ulengo would have the final say with a late crossing in a result that is too little too late for the Bulls in terms of their season.
Tries: Blommetjies, Wegner
Con: Zeilinga, Whitehead
Tries: Ismaiel 2, Bothma 2, Ulengo
Con: Schoeman 2, Brummer
Pen: Schoeman 4
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Oupa Mohoje (c), 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Maks van Dyks, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Carl Wegner, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Rayno Benjamin
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Nqoba Mxoli, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 SP Marais
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)