The Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs were the main acts in what transpired to be a circus of a Currie Cup match which played itself out on the empty but boisterous stage of Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.
Sanity was eventually brought into the game right at the end when electric winger Makazole Mapimpi crashed over in the left hand corner in the 85th minute to grab his third try of the match and more importantly gave the Cheetahs a 41-40 win to take them to the top of the Currie Cup log.
Mapimpi, who also contributed to the comedy of errors in the first half when he dropped the ball over the try-line, reminded the sprinkling of supporters who had attended that this was still a rugby match with a brilliant individual effort to score his first try and followed that up with a fortuitous try two minutes into the second half courtesy of another defensive blunder by the home side.
While Mapimpi would have walked away the hero of Saturday's victory, there would have been much concern in the Cheetahs camp at how poor they defended and their contribution to a match that will certainly dominate the funnies highlights reel for the season.
On attack, the Cheetahs are nothing short of sublime and have mastered the game of running angles, short passes and bringing in their bullocking forwards into the fray.
But equal to that and defeating their ball in hand toil, was the many moments when the rush of blood to the head undid all the hard work with fullback
Clayton Blommetjies being the main clown.
Not only was Blommetjies a shadow in defence, he made two crucial kicking errors in the dying moments of the game with a wayward attempted conversion and a penalty kick that went over the dead ball line.
But Blommetjies was well assisted by the rest of his munnions in most of his teammates in the Cheetahs teams.
The Bulls weren’t blameless in the circus and they had flyhalf Tony Jantjies as their main clown with the younger brother of Springbok pivot Elton having one of his worst games in the sky blue jersey this season.
The unfamiliar lunch time kick-off to this game left Jantjies day dreaming as he had two conversion attempts charged down while his general play left much to be desired with the Cheetahs exploiting his inside channel on attack.
Jantjies, too, was well aided by his teammates as they made foolish decisions by opting to run from all corners of the park including from their own tryline with a few seconds left in the game instead of punting the ball down field and out.
The Bulls were also punished for their overzealousness at the breakdown and clumsiness on defence with Jamba Ulengo, Shaun Adendorff and Piet van Zyl all coping yellow cards for professional fouls by referee Marius van der Westhuizen.
However, Ulengo made up for his indiscretion with two tries and like Mapimpi was the Bulls best player on the field and would have easily walked away with the man-of-the-match prize had his teammates just managed to hold off the Cheetahs at the end.
The Bulls had done well to recover from their first half defensive frailties which allowed the Cheetahs easy access over their try-line, with Jantjies scoring the first of the hosts five tries.
It was Ulengo who began the home side’s second half fight back with a try in the 49th minute before Warrick Gelant sealed a stellar outing for the Bulls with a sublime individual try that saw him carve the Cheetahs defence with a dummy and his blistering turn of speed.
Ulengo was again on hand to score for the hosts as he capitalized on some porous play by the Cheetahs when he tackled and grabbed the ball out of Blommetjies’ hands to score as the visitors attempted to play themselves out of danger in their in-goal area.
The Bulls had seemingly done enough by then to arrest a two match losing streak but with nine minutes left on the stadium clock there was still a few embarrassing acts to add to the comical entertainment that had come before.
The Cheetahs scored two more tries with Sergeal Petersen cantering over the after another missed tackle on Cheetahs centre William Small-Smith before the Bulls stupidly tried to run themselves out of trouble which led to the turnover that saw Mapimpi bring the curtain down on the circus and entertainment.
Blue Bulls (21) 40
Tries: Dries Swanepoel, Tony Jantjies, Jamba Ulengo (2), Warrick Gelant. Conversion: Tony Jantjies (2), Joshua Stander. Penalties: Tony Jantjies (3). Yellow cards: Jamba Ulengo (30thminute), Shaun Adendorff (40th minute), Piet van Zyl (80th minute)
Free State Cheetahs (17) 41
Tries: Makazole Mapimpi (3), Jasper Wiese, Francois Venter, Sergeal Petersen. Conversions: Ryno Eksteen (4). Penalty: Ryno Eksteen. Yellow card: Paul Schoeman (56th minute)