Vital victory for Blue Bulls
Blue Bulls moved off the bottom of the Currie Cup table on Saturday after overcoming Free State Cheetahs 34-30 at Loftus Versfeld.
While the Bulls had underperformed in previous weeks, things seemed to click for the hosts as they dominated every aspect of play.
The victory kept the men from Pretoria in the running to secure a place in the play-offs, lifting them off the bottom of the Currie Cup ladder, while the Cheetahs dropped down to bottom.
Louis Fouche opened the scoring with a penalty in the fourth minute while Cheetahs winger Nico Scheepers returned the favour four minutes later.
The hosts side got over the whitewash in the twelfth minute when number eight Arno Botha pierced the Cheetahs' defensive line. The talented loose forward calmly offloaded to a speeding Sampie Mastriet, who scored in the corner, with Fouche missing the conversion.
Scheepers closed the gap once again with a successful shot in the seventeenth minute.
Fouche then stepped up to the plate to slot over a monstrous attempt from deep inside his own half. He succeeded with two more penalties to extend the Bulls' lead to eleven.
The Cheetahs then added another three points on the half-time whistle with Scheepers converting a penalty to reduce the home side's advantage.
After the break, Fouche converted another penalty conversion to regain their 18-point lead.
The Free State Cheetahs, however, refused to bow down as they hit back with two tries within the space of ten minutes. The visiting attack found a new spark as Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske sent Sias Ebersohn on to replace Tewis de Bruyn at fly-half.
It was, however, exciting backline player Raymond Rhule who was rewarded in the 53rd minute for an all-round sterling performance, with Scheepers converting.
Midway through the second half the Cheetahs once again found a gap in the Bulls' defence with Scheepers scoring in the right hand corner and converting his own try.
The closing minutes were filled with drama with the Bulls defending a four-point lead.
The hosts, however, took the game out of the Cheetahs' reach as replacement CJ Stander added his name to the try scoring sheet with four minutes remaining in the encounter. Free State had the last say of the match as prop Marcel van der Merwe scored the final try.