Bulls steal a late winner at Loftus
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: Jessie Kriel scored a try in the 73rd minute to gift the Bulls a fortuitous 20-14 win over the hapless Cheetahs in Pretoria on Saturday.
In a game of very ordinary standards, the Cheetahs looked like finally ending their losing streak - as they took an 11-3 lead into the half-time break.
And they managed to hold onto the lead (14-13) going into the final 10 minutes, before a rare moment of brilliance gave the Bulls the winning score.
Turnover ball in midfield gave the home team an attacking opportunity and Jamba Ulengo and Burger Odendaal made ground before Kriel cut inside to score.
Tian Schoeman, deputising at flyhalf for midweek training ground casualty Handré Pollard, converted to complete the scoring at thinly populated Loftus Versfeld stadium.
As was the case last weekend when they defeated the Argentine Jaguares, the Bulls won because they emerged as the better of two poor sides.
"We made a lot of mistakes," admitted heavily bruised skipper and hooker Adriaan Strauss.
"There were a lot of errors.
"Too many of our attacks were lateral and we struggled to find rhythm," added the forward who retired as Springboks captain at the end of last season.
For the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs it was the usual story of being unable to defend a lead, having been 11-3 in front at half-time.
They were 14-13 ahead when Kriel struck to keep the Bulls second in the Africa Two conference with 14 points, 12 less than leaders Stormers.
With the Stormers and Lions set to win the two Africa leagues and reach the quarterfinals, only the best runners-up from the two sections will join them.
And the Sharks, second in Africa Two, have eight points more than the Bulls with a game in hand entering the second half of the regular season.
Replacement flank Jacques Potgieter scored the Bulls' other try and Schoeman - bound for Bordeaux later this year - slotted two conversions and two penalties.
Loose forward Paul Schoeman scored a pushover try for the Cheetahs and fly-half Niel Marais kicked three penalties.
Man of the match: William-Small Smith and Francois Venter tested the Bulls' defence, while Paul Schoeman and Armandt Koster were the Cheetahs' most productive forwards. Jamba Ulengo provided plenty of energy on attack, Jason Jenkins was busy and Jacques Potgieter made a big impact off the bench. However, our award goes to Bulls centre Burger Odendaal for the creative intent and attacking threat that he brought to the game.
For the Bulls:
Cons: Schoeman 2
Pens: Schoeman 2
For the Cheetahs:
Pens: Marais 3
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Jacques Potgieter, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Franco Naude.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Uzair Cassiem, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)