Cheetahs Outwrestle Bulls

Francois Hougaard Super Rugby Bulls CheetahsThe Cheetahs scored a historic first ever victory over the Bulls in Bloemfontein, and did so by beating them at their own game. Poor conditions put paid to any real ambition by either side, a fact that should have given the visitors a considerable advantage given their style and preference for tactical rugby. In actuality their limitations were only highlighted further as the Cheetahs resorted to nearly identical tactics and completely stonewalled them in defense.

It was not a game for the speed merchants to display their class, instead it was the combination of the right boot of Johan Goosen and the left of Willie le Roux who split the tactical kicking duties from first receiver to put the ball into the corners. Francois Hougaard and Louis Fouché again had little answer and it seems fairly clear that the halfback pairing is not working out. Surely Frans Ludeke must now turn to Piet van Zyl and Handré Pollard, both of whom looked more competent when summoned from the bench.

The home side enjoyed parity in both territory and possession in the first half and were able to take advantage. After the change in halfbacks it was the visitors who turned up the heat, controlling the ball and enjoying a huge advantage in territory, but despite repeated attempts to drive their way over the line the Cheetahs held them out. Surely an attempt to try something different was in order, but the Bulls persisted and their predictability failed them for the second consecutive week.

If the Bulls are to take any positives from their initial efforts this season it’s that some questions have been answered very quickly. Jono Ross looks very uncomfortable on the flank and while Grant Hattingh is lively enough he is very lightweight in the second row. Jacques Engelbrecht was a good signing from the Kings in the off-season but both he and Pierre Spies have been very inconspicuous in the opening two rounds.

Naka Drotské on the other hand will be very pleased to get over the psychological hurdle that the Bulls have enjoyed over the years. While they endured problems in the scrum, an issue that appears their greatest impediment at the moment, their ability to play the conditions with such commitment was surprising. The defensive effort was outstanding, especially around the fringes against the driving maul, and the impressive result will no doubt have raised eyebrows across the tournament.

CHEETAHS 15 vs 9 BULLS
Friday, February 21, 2014, 17:10 GMT, Bloemfontein

SCORING
02 mins – J. Goosen drop 3-0
06 mins – J. Goosen pen 6-0
23 mins – L. Fouché pen 6-3
25 mins – J. Goosen pen 9-3
29 mins – J. Goosen pen 12-3
52 mins – H. Pollard pen 12-6
61 mins – J. Goosen pen 15-6
79 mins – H. Pollard pen 15-9

CHEETAHS
W. le Roux; C. Hendricks, J. Sadie, F. Venter, R. Rhule; J. Goosen, S. Venter; Ca. Oosthuizen (T. Nyakane 51), A. Strauss (capt.), Co. Oosthuizen; L. de Jager, F. Uys (L. Landman 74); B. Prinsloo (J. Cook 51), L. Labuschagne, P. van der Walt.

BULLS
J. Visser; A. Ndungane (U. Beyers 74), J.J. Engelbrecht, J. Serfontein, B. Basson; L. Fouché (H. Pollard 47), F. Hougaard (P. van Zyl 62); D. Greyling (M. van der Merwe 32), C. Visagie, W. Kruger (F. Kirsten 62); F. van der Merwe (capt.), G. Hattingh (V. Matfield 47); J. Ross, J. du Plessis (W. Liebenberg 51-56), J. Engelbrecht (W. Liebenberg 63 {G. Hattingh 75}).

Referee: S. Berry (SARU)
Assistants: L. van der merwe (SARU) & F. de Bruin (SARU)
TMO: S. Veldsman (SARU)

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