Blue Bulls thrash Free State Cheetahs
The Blue Bulls ended a three-match losing streak when they claimed a 64-36 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.
As the scoreline suggests, this was a thrilling affair although both sides defended poorly and the Blue Bulls eventually outscored the Cheetahs 10 tries to five with Burger Odendaal and Warrick Gelant scoring a hat-trick apiece for the visitors, although the Cheetahs' replacement scrum-half Daniel Maartens also crossed the whitewash on three occasions.
Both sides showed their attacking intent from the outside but despite running the ball at every opportunity, the opening exchanges were highlighted by several handling errors from both sides.
The Blue Bulls eventually opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Ivan van Zyl dotted down next to the posts after taking a tap penalty when the Cheetahs were blown up for illegal scrummaging deep inside their 22.
Shortly afterwards, the Bulls scored their second try with their skipper, Odendaal, rounding off after selling the defence a dummy from close quarters.
The Cheetahs' situation worsened in the 18th minute when their captain, Chris Dry was sent to the sin bin for slowing the ball down cynically on defence after referee Jaco van Heerden had penalised the home side several times for similar offences prior to that.
But despite playing with 14 men, the Cheetahs continued to attack and they were rewarded two minutes later when Lloyd Greeff crossed for their opening try after Clayton Blommetjies and Aliqhayiya Mgijima combined brilliantly in the build-up.
The Bulls did not take that lying down and responded with tries from Odendaal and Gelant which meant the visitors led 26-10 by the 35th minute. The home side finished the half stronger though and two well-taken tries from Maartens meant the Bulls held a slender 26-22 lead at half-time.
It continued to rain tries after the break and Odendaal got his hat-trick shortly after the restart before Maartens also achieved that feat in the 49th minute.
Maartens' last try meant his side were trailing by four points again but the Bulls took control of proceedings and tries from Duncan Matthews and Johan Grobbelaar gave them a 43-29 lead by the 62nd minute.
The rest of the match was a frantic affair with both sides continuing to give the ball plenty of air.
A converted try from Tim Agaba brought up the visitors' half century but, to their credit, the Cheetahs did not surrender and narrowed the gap soon afterwards thanks to a Stephan Janse van Rensburg try.
The Blue Bulls finished stronger though and two late tries from Gelant secured him his hat-trick and a deseved win for his team.
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Greeff, Maartens 3, Janse van Vuuren
Cons: Petzer 3, Smith
Yellow Card: Dry
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: I van Zyl, Odendaal 3, Gelant 3, Matthews, Grobbelaar, Agaba
Cons: Boshoff 5, Jantjies 2
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Jacobus Jonker, 13 Aliqhayiya Mgijima, 12 Lloyd Greeff, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Robbie Petzer, 9 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Nicolaas Immelman, 6 Chris Dry (c), 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Dennis Visser, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Johan Kotze
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Gunther Janse van Vuuren, 18 Andrew Kuhn, 19 Jeremy Jordaan, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 Juan-Philip Smith, 22 Stephan Janse van Rensburg
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Burger Odendaal (c), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze , 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager , 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Ashton Fortuin, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Mautlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Jano Venter, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Ulrich Beyers
Referee: Jaco van Heerden