Planet Rugby

Bulls fight back to beat Cheetahs

03rd May 2014 17:51

Share:

Jono Ross Bulls v Cheetahs SR 2014

Jono Ross clatters into Boom Prinsloo

Having gone five matches without a win, the Bulls fought back to claim a 26-21 victory over the Cheetahs in Pretoria on Saturday.

It was again not the best advert for South African rugby and on this occasion the Bulls should probably take most of the blame for not allowing the contest to develop into the free-flowing affair spectators would have enjoyed.

The Cheetahs enjoyed the ascendency early-on and looked to play at the same intensity that helped them to victory over the Stormers last weekend, although there would have been a some disappointed when their hosts, who were struggling to win the territotial battle, opened the scoring through fly-half Handre Pollard.

The pivot knocked it over from 60 metres out but matters were all square just minutes later when Elgar Watts returned the favour from just inside his own half.

It took less than 10 minutes for Cheetahs kingpins like Heinrich Brussow and Willie le Roux to stamp their authority on a match where turnover possession would always create the best attacking platforms.

Initially both sides were satisfied to let their kickers do the work, but the Bulls would eventually start attacking from deep and this resulted in faster line speed by the Cheetahs defence.

A poor pass from Pollard to number eight Grant Hattingh was intercepted by Johann Sadie just outside the Bulls' 22 and once the centre put his head down, there was no catching him.

The 18th minute try gave the Cheetahs a lead that they would maintain for most of the match and it was deserved as they continued to show most of the initiative on attack.

Scrum-half Sarel Pretorius played a key role in keeping his side on the front foot as he marshaled his troops well while also finding space behind a Bulls defensive line that proved to be very lethargic at times.

Pretorius helped his side gain a greater advantage when his lightning like reactions caught the Bulls offside.

Pollard was sin-binned for cynical play when he tackled the Cheetahs livewire shortly after he took a quick-tap penalty inside the Bulls' 22.

Watts knocked over the subsequent penalty to make it 13-3 and it would have been 16-3 had Le Roux converted a long range attempt his side won through their dominance at a scrum.

In a telling battle up front, the Cheetahs were far more impressive and this showed in the metres they were able to make against a side that lacked structure.

In a rare visit to the other side of the pitch, the Bulls eventually pulled back three points through full-back Jurgen Visser who knocked one over just before the half-hour mark.

Still down to 14 men, the Bulls were kept in the match through right wing Akona Ndungane, who put his body on the line to deny the visitors on defence.

On that occasion centre Ryno Bejnamin cut through the weak first line of defence, but was stopped inches from the line by the dreadlocked veteran.

That moment proved to be vital in the context of the match as the Bulls, with a full compliment of players, started building phases - and confidence.

From a set line-out move inside Cheetahs territory Hougaard finally found a weakness in an otherwise solid line and the Springbok would eventually watch prop Marcel van der Merwe score what would have been his team's first try after Ndungane put them on the front foot with a well timed run.

The try, however, was disallowed after the television match official ruled that skipper Victor Matfield had obstructed the visitors from tackling the carrier.

Pollard eventually added three more to the score, but the last say of the first 40 would belong to the men from Bloemfontein.

Just before the break the Cheetahs scored from set phase with Raymond Rhule finishing in the corner.

The visitors' back-line put the ball smoothly through the hands, with Sadie establishing the gap before off-loading beautifully to Benjamin who in turn sent a long pass to Rhule on the wing for the try. Watts missed the conversion but the Cheetahs held a deserved 18-9 lead at half-time.

In true Bulls fashion the home side had the first say after the break and were suddenly back in contention when lock Paul Willemse went over the whitewash.

Willemse, one of the Bulls' most impressive defenders on the night, barged over from close quarters after Pollard put through a neatly timed chip kick that scattered the Cheetahs defence.

This made it a two-point game and just as the Bulls started smelling success, Cheetahs replacement fly-half Johan Gossen opened the gap again with a penalty conversion of his own.

Then, perhaps the player who needed most to silence his critics, scored the try that gave the Bulls ensured the Bulls would enjoy the lead as the match headed into the last quarter.

Hooker Callie Visagie barged over from close range and in doing so, insured that his side's rather poor performance at scrum time would be over-looked for the time being.

With two points sepearating the sides Goosen missed a crucial kick at goal.

The Bulls' replacement pivot - Jacques-Louis Potgieter, would not make the same mistake and suddenly the Bulls were four clear of the side that beat the in the opening round of the tournament.

The scorers:

For Bulls:
Tries: Willemse, Visagie
Cons: Pollard 2
Pens: Pollard 2, Visser, Potgieter
Yellow card: Pollard (professional foul, 22nd minute).

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Sadie, Rhule
Cons: Watts
Pens: Watts 2, Goosen

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Wimpie van der Walt, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 JJ Engelbrecht

Cheetahs:15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Ligtoring Landman, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Cornal Hendricks.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821