Energetic Cheetahs dismiss blunder Bulls
REPORT: The Free State Cheetahs outclassed the Blue Bulls - beating them 43-20 in their Currie Cup Round Two match in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The, six tries to one, victory means the Cheetahs have not just got their second consecutive bonus-point win at the start of the season but have also reclaimed first place in the tournament standings.
The Bulls were ponderous and predictable, while the Cheetahs were full of energy and inventiveness.
In fact, the biggest problem for the Bulls was that they were far too individualistic and robotic. It also did not help the Bulls that players in key positions - like scrumhalf and flyhalf - were having nightmares of epic proportions.
At times the Cheetahs' eagerness got the better of them and they conceded a number of penalties, but at least there was a lot more endeavour than a Bulls team.
Free State got off to a great start when captain and centre Francois Venter crossed in the second minute.
Tiaan Schoeman got the Bulls on the board with a fourth-minute penalty, but the Cheetahs' continued their high-octane game.
Cheetahs fullback Clayton Blommetjies was next to score, in the eighth minute, courtesy of the Bulls' porous defence.
The Bulls again narrowed the gap, when flank Jannes Kirsten burst over the try-line for the visitors.
Prop Retshegofaditswe Nche then showed a great turn of pace to score the home team's third try - running all of 50 metres.
Free State flyhalf Fred Zeilinga brought the curtain down on the first half, when he slotted a long-range penalty to hand his team a healthy 24-10 lead at the break.
The Cheetahs were guilty of ill-discipline in the early exchanges of the second half, which saw Schoeman slot a penalty.
However, the Cheetahs hit back with another well-worked try - this time by flank Uzair Cassiem. The Cheetahs secured the ball from the line-out on the halfway mark. The Blue Bulls' defence continued to leak metres and Cassiem powered over for a try in the corner.
Free State continued their try-scoring rampage - with centres Francois Venter and William Small-Smith, both former Bulls, having combined well, with Small-Smith adding another try to his team's tally.
There was some hope of a comeback flank Ruan Steenkamp went over with 10 minutes remaining - 36-20.
However, the Cheetahs were unstoppable and wing Ryno Benjamin ran a great support line to score the final try of the match.
Man of the match: Clayton Blommetjies looked to inject pace from the back, while two former Bulls centres - Francois Venter and William Small-Smith - made life decidedly unpleasant for their opponents. Fred Zeilinga was the general that directed the play. Uzair Cassiem and Paul Schoeman were monsters on defence and at the breakdown. However, it is the Cheetahs' energetic prop Retshegofaditswe Nche that gets our award - and not just for his 50-metre sprint for a try.
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries:Venter, Blommetjies, Nche, Cassiem, Small-Smith, Benjamin
Cons: Zeilinga 4, Marais
For the Blue Bulls:
Cons: Schoeman, Stander
Pens: Schoeman 2
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Justin Basson, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Niel Marais, 22 Maphutha Dolo.
Blue Bulls: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Dan Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Entienne Swanepoel, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Rudolph Snyman, 19 Hanro Liebenberg, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Duncan Matthews.
Referee: Lesego Legoete
Assistant referees: Archie Sehlako, Jaco Kotze
TMO: JJ Wagner