Cheetahs stun Bulls in Pretoria
July 24, 2010
Prop Brok Harris notched Western Province's opening try against the Leopards © Getty Images
Sias Ebersohn expertly converted Skipper Badenhorst's injury-time try as the Free State Cheetahs pulled off a thrilling 25-23 victory over the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.
The Bulls had only suffered two previous Currie Cup defeats in Pretoria and they appeared to be heading towards yet another home win when Stefan Watermayer's converted try helped them into an eight-point advantage with just 17 minutes remaining. However, Ebersohn came off the bench on 73 minutes and he slotted over a penalty before landing a sublime conversion to seal a famous win for the visitors.
The final scoreline was all the more remarkable for the fact that the Bulls had made a blistering start to the game, racking up ten points in the space of eight minutes. Jacques-Louis Potgieter got the hosts up and running with a penalty after less than 60 seconds of play and the fly-half played a key role in the game's opening try, driving his way to within a metre of the whitewash before Derick Kuun crashed over from close range.
Cheetahs fly-half Louis Strydom replied with a penalty on 12 minutes but it was the home side who continued to dominate proceedings. However, they were struggling to turn their superiority into points. Potgieter did manage two penalties before the end of the half but he was matched in that regard by Strydom, meaning Kuun's converted try was the only difference between the two sides at the interval.
Strydom reduced the Cheetahs' arrears to just four points with another penalty five minutes into the second half and they really should have moved ahead in the third quarter but Coenraad Oosthuizen was twice denied a try by the TMO during a spell of incessant pressure from the Free Staters. In the end, the visitors were forced to settle for another three-pointer from Strydom.
There was no just a point between the sides - but not for long, Watermayer sliding over after a remarkable piece of good fortune. The inside centre attempted to release the onrushing Stephan Dippenaar but the latter was unable to gather. However, he did succeed in advertently deflecting the ball back into the path of Watermayer, who was left with a clear path to the line. Potgieter converted to leave the Cheetahs needing two scores in the final four minutes to turn the game around. Incredibly, the Cheetahs managed three.
Ebersohn slotted a penalty on 77 minutes before Badenhorst dived over in the left corner after the Cheetahs had sucked in the Bulls defence with a spell of incessant forward pressure. Ebersohn then displayed remarkably composure in stepping up to nail the resulting conversion attempt from just inches in from the touch-line as the Cheetahs gained a modicum of revenge for defeat to the Bulls in last year's Currie Cup final.
While the defending champions continue to struggle in this year's competition, Western Province made it three wins from three with a 42-23 victory over the Leopards in Potchefstroom on Friday.
The visitors racked up six tries for a bonus point win that cemented their place at the top of the table and left the Leopards rooted to the bottom of the table.
Tight-head prop Brok Harris crashed over from close range for the first try of the game and further scores from winger Frikkie Welsh and centre Paul Bosch before the break cemented their deserved lead. Flanker Pieter Louw and replacements Conrad Hoffmann and Pieter Myburgh crossed after the break with fly-half Willem De Waal finishing with 12 points courtesy of three conversions and two penalties.
The Leopards notched their first try shortly after the break through winger Dumisani Matyesmana but had to wait until the closing moments for their second with centre Jovan Bowles grabbing an intercept score before winger Deon Scholtz added another in the final minute.
Meanwhile, the Natal Sharks made it two wins from three after recovering from a seven-point half-time deficit to record a 27-17 victory over the Pumas in Durban.
The Pumas grabbed the first try of the game against the run of play with No.8 Christo le Roux crashing over midway through the half but the Sharks struck back through Keegan Daniel. However, the Pumas wrestled back control of the game with a try from Ronnie Uys before the break.
Scrum-half Charl McLeod dragged his side back into the contest with a try and the easy conversion from Patrick Lambie levelled the scores. Daniel then grabbed his second try of the night and he completed his hat-trick late in the game to secure the maximum five-point haul and keep the pressure on Western Province at the top of the table.
Elsewhere, the Griquas showed impressive belief and resilience in coming from 11 points down at one point in the second half to claim a dramatic 26-20 victory over the Golden Lions at GWK Park in Kimberley on Saturday.
The Lions had been the better side for nearly an hour, taking control of the game thanks to a superb individual score from scrum-half Jano Vermaak with just ten minutes on the clock. Naas Olivier got the Griquas off the mark with a penalty soon after but the visitors reasserted their superiority with a second try just before the break, George Earl barging his way over with a little help from Franco van der Merwe. Herkie Kruger converted to make it 14-3 to the Lions.
Olivier landed a timely penalty in the dying seconds of the opening period only to see Kruger reply in kind just after the interval to put 11 points between the sides once more. However, Jacobus Adriaanse dragged the Griquas right back into the game when he crashed over from close range for a try which was promptly converted by Olivier.
The home side hit the front for the first time at the start of the fourth quarter when Bjorn Basson touched down in the corner. Olivier converted and then added two crucial penalties - either side of a successful kick from Kruger - as the Griquas eked out a valuable victory.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies