Blue Bulls edge Cheetahs
July 22, 2011
Frederic Michalak was once again in inspired form for the Sharks © Getty Images
The Blue Bulls recorded their first win of the 2011 Currie Cup with a narrow 33-30 win over the Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versveld on Saturday.
It was a close affair with in Pretoria with the Cheetahs leading for the majority of the game it was them who opened the scoring through fullback Hennie Denillier who shocked the hosts finishing off patient team play to exploit an overlap and score in the corner. The boot of Cheetahs fly-half Sias Ebersohn kept the Bloemfontein side out in front kicking one penalty but shanking a following effort to the right of the post. A great passage of play from the Bulls threatened the Cheetahs line with 15 minutes left in the first-half but it proved to be in vain as the Cheetahs stood resolute and prevented the Bulls from troubling the try-line.
Instead it was the Cheetahs who extended their lead in the 28th minute with loose-head prop Marcel van der Merwe crashing over from metres out to give the Cheetahs a 17-3 lead. With the game in injury time at the end of the first-half referee Marius Jonker deemed that Philip Snyman tripped Juandre Kruger as they chased the ball in the Cheetahs 22 and Bulls fly-half Francois Brummer kicked the additional three points with the Cheetahs going into the break 17-6 ahead.
Brummer started the second-half in the same manner he started the first knocking over a penalty. And in the 50th minute came the Bulls first try with Gerhard van den Heever sprinting down the wing to reduce the deficit to a single point. However the Cheetahs struck straight back with Francois Uys charging down an attempted Bulls clearance kick and the lock then grounded the ball under the post and in the process reasserted their eight point lead.
The Bulls struck back though soon after through Derick Kuun who sprinted down the right wing to cross the line and bring the Pretoria side back within touching distance. The Bulls then pulled ahead through winger Akona Ndungane who raced clear exploiting a missed tackle and grounded the ball under the posts - following the conversion the score was 30-27. The Cheetahs then levelled the score with a penalty to set up a nervous final 15 minutes. However, a penalty from Brummer proved to be the difference between the two sides with the Bulls prevailing 33-30.
in the earlier kick-off, a six-try first-half blitz by the Golden Lions was enough to secure them a 49-11 win over the Griquas in Kimberley.
The Lions had Jano Vermaak to thank with the scrum-half running in three tries of his own and also having a hand in another. The Lions- who opened up their Currie Cup campaign with a 31-27 win over the Pumas last Friday - looked in imperious form in the first-half and added a further two scores in the second period.
Vermaak opened the scoring for the Lions in just the fourth minute popping up at the back of the scrum and running the ball into the corner. Following quick thinking from No.8 Josh Strauss, Vermaak soon doubled his tally running in under the posts unopposed. The Lions showed no signs of relenting and scored their third try in the 13th minute with fly-half Burton Francis taking advantage of good play from Deon van Rensburg to cross the whitewash.
The Lions scrum-half's hat-trick was complete after just 24 minutes after Vermaak stayed on rampaging blindside Cobus Grobelaar's shoulder to gratefully receive his off-load and crash under the posts. Lionel Mapoe and van Rensburg scored the Lions fifth and sixth try respectively before the break.
However - the second-half was a different matter with the Lions failing to find the same level of execution they had in the first but did bag two late scores. It was the Griquas who troubled the scoreboard first in the second period with No.8 Jonothan Mokuena grounding the ball following a brutal performance from the Griquas pack. Try as they might, the Griquas failed to add to their 11 points and the game seemed to be petering out into a scrappy affair. However - Waylon Murray and Mapoe added two late scores to push the Lions one point away from the half-century.
On Friday, reigning Currie Cup champions the Natal Sharks avoided an upset against the Pumas by the narrowest of margins and had prop Dale Chadwick to thank for a late try.
The Natal side defeated the Pumas 23-22, taking advantage of their numerical advantage following a Pumas sin-binning in the closing stages of the game. Frederic Michalak contributed a personal total of 18 points en route to their victory.
Michalak and Pumas fly-half Tiaan Marx traded blows from the tee all evening and both sides scored a try apiece in the first-half. Michalak crossed the try line in the 32nd minute for the Sharks but Coenie van Wyk struck back for the Pumas moments later to take a 19-16 lead at the break.
The Pumas contributed only three more points in the second-half but it was enough to sustain a six-point lead until the dying embers of the game. Following a Pumas sin-binning, the Sharks scored through Chadwick in the 74th minute. Despite the Pumas trying a last-ditch attempt at a drop-goal it proved to be in vain with the reigning champions holding on for the four points.
Elsewhere, Western Province made amends for their draw in the opening round of the Currie Cup by turning over the Leopards 47-9 in the other Friday kick-off.
Wing JJ Engelbrecht crossed the line for the away side's first try in the 12th minute, taking advantage of a neat offload from Dewaldt Duvenhage. Hooker Deon Fourie thought he had done enough moments later to put Province further in front but the TMO ruled that he committed a double-movement in the act of scoring. However, Brok Harris did stretch the lead before half-time, crashing over the line to make it 23-9 at the break.
Try as they might, the Leopards failed to make a dent on the scoreboard in the second-half while Province left it late to confirm their bonus point win. Johann Sadie scored his side's third try in the 58th minute but they had to wait until the 72nd minute for the decisive five-point score. De Kock Steenkamp was the man responsible for Province's fourth score with No.8 Nick Koster confirming the rout moments later with his side's fifth try of the night.
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