Cheetahs claw their way around Bulls’ herd

DEANO Boesak of the Sharks on the attack against Western Province. | BackpagePix

DEANO Boesak of the Sharks on the attack against Western Province. | BackpagePix

Published Jun 28, 2024


Gossain Abrahams

THE main game on Day Four at the Craven Week between the Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls produced schoolboy rugby at its best. It was a high quality encounter with the Cheetahs winning 34-27.

They were deserved winners over the side from Tshwane, outscoring them six tries to four after leading 17-8 at half-time.

The Free Staters surprised the Bulls with their physicality up front. From the kick-off it was clear that it was going to be a bruising encounter as the forwards slugged it out. The Bulls’ expected dominance up front failed to materialise as the Cheetahs eightman matched them in the rucks and mauls.

A wayward clearance by scrumhalf Philip McLaren inside his 22 enabled the Bulls to open the scoring via an unconverted try by full back Dewron Aford. Ironically this was the only time they led in the game.

The Cheetahs clawed their way back and pressurised the Bulls in conceding two penalties in quick succession. From a resulting line-out they equalised in Bulls fashion with a mauled try by hooker Liam van Wyk. They repeated the dosage shortly afterwards when Van Wyk notched his second unconverted try from another line-out maul.

The Bulls were guilty of too many unforced errors and it was left to flyhalf Ruben Pienaar to reduce the deficit via a penalty.

The Cheetahs were now playing with their usual flair and finesse with flyhalf Alzeadon Felix orchestrating most of the attacks with his elusive running and sleight of hand.

With the hooter having gone for half-time they launched a counter attack from inside their 22 and full back Heinz Stokenstrom scored after a determined run by wing Siya Kenny. Stokenstrom converted to make it 17- 8 at the change-over.

In the second half the Cheetahs extended their lead to 22-8 when replacement centre Toriq Schambreel crossed in the corner.

A riposte from the Bull was to be expected. From the kick-off the Cheetahs exit strategy failed and lock JD Hattingh capitalised with an unconverted try (22-13).

Sensing a Bulls comeback the Cheetahs stormed onto the attack but the Bulls reduced the deficit following a 50/22 touch finder which led to a converted try by scrumhalf Hendre Schoeman.

At 22-20 it looked like the Bulls were going to pull off another Houdini act as they did against the Lions two days ago. But Cheetahs maestro Felix went on a dazzling run from inside his half and set Stokenstrom up for his second converted try. At 29-22 the Cheetahs were breathing again.

With eight minutes remaining the Bulls threw caution to the wind. From one counter attack from inside the 22, wing Junaid Stuart outstripped the defence on a 60m run to the corner.

Pienaar converted from touch and the lead had crimped to two (29-27). With the clock ticking away the Cheetahs gave the Bulls a dose of their own medicine when the Free Staters executed a rolling maul for Liam Santos to dot down and put the final nail in the Bulls coffin .

The Cheetahs will now play WP in the late game on Saturday.

In the main curtain-raiser the hosts Golfen Lions recorded their first win of the week with a 37-33 victory over WPXV. The home side just about deserved to win, outscoring the visitors by six tries to five.

Star performers for the winners were wing Cheswill Jooste and centre Michael Benzien who both notched braces.


Griquas 53 Limpopo Blue Bulls 37

Pumas 57 Griffons 26

Related Topics: