PRETORIA – The Free State Cheetahs got their Currie Cup campaign off to a winning start with a resounding 43-27 win over the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.
It would be quite a leap to suggest the PRO14 competition, where the Cheetahs play their rugby, is better, while the rest of the country’s top sides feature in the Super Rugby competition.
One thing is sure – the Cheetahs were the better team on the night scoring six tries to the five by a flat-footed Blue Bulls team.
Two late tries flattered the home side, despite their kickers missing four conversion attempts.
The Pretoria side will have to find the mojo that served them so well during their Super Rugby campaign or kiss any chances of a Currie Cup playoff goodbye.
The Blue Bulls were outmuscled in the scrums by a beastly Cheetahs pack of forwards that had their number in nearly every aspect of the game.
Bulls coach Pote Human cautioned against a repeat of their Currie Cup opener against Western Province where their set-piece was a glaring weakness.
But the Cheetahs were full of value scoring three first-half tries, with outside centre Benhard Janse van Rensburg going over for a brace, with No 8 Henco Venter opening their account.
Bulls captain Ruan Steenkamp pulled one back for the home side shortly before the halftime break, with the Cheetahs holding a 22-12 lead going into the recess.
The opening minutes of the second half was void of anything to write about before Cheetahs fullback Louis Fouché found his way over the whitewash scoring next to the left upright.
Bulls wing Rosko Specman scored another sparkling try chipping the ball ahead collecting it shortly before the line.
The Cheetahs added two more tries courtesy of Jasper Wiese and Darren Adonis to go well clear of the hosts leading 43-17.
Two late inconsequential tries at the death to Johan Grobbelaar and Conraad van Vuuren gave the Blue Bulls a much-needed bonus point.
Blue Bulls 27 – Tries: Cornal Hendricks, Ruan Steenkamp, Rosko Specman, Johan Grobbelaar, Conraad van Vuuren. Conversion: Manie Libbok (1).
Cheetahs 43 – Tries: Henco Venter, Benhard Janse van Rensburg (2), Louis Fouché, Jasper Wiese, Darren Adonis. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (5). Penalty: Schoeman (1).@ockertde