The Vodacom Blue Bulls lost 43-27 (half-time 22-12) against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.
The men from Bloemfontein laid a solid foundation in the first half and they continued to test the home side’s defence as the match progressed to earn a bonus-point win.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs stamped their authority in the first half by forcing their way over the advantage line at will, and they did well to capitalise on their try-scoring chances, which saw them out-score the hosts six tries to five after leading 22-12 lead at the break.
The Free Staters opened up the scoring with a penalty goal in the fourth minute and they continued to apply pressure in the first half with their forwards and backs, which saw centre Benhard Janse van Rensburg touch down twice – once from a pass out wide from a scrum and another from a powerful burst through three defenders – and No 8 Henco Venter, who touched down following a strong break from a lineout.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls, in turn, scored compliments of a smart pass into space to winger Cornal Hendricks and flanker Ruan Steenkamp from a timely rolling maul before halftime.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs continued to make their presence felt after the break with fullback Louis Fouche scoring the bonus-point try in the 51st minute after clutching hold of the ball in contact and touching down at the base of the posts.
Their lead was reduced to 29-17 minutes later as former Springbok Sevens star Rosko Specman used his array of skills to nudge through a smart chip-and-chase, which he gathered to score the hosts’ third try.
The visitors, however, continued to show their class as Jasper Wiese forced his way over the line from an effective rolling maul on the stroke of the fourth quarter, which pushed them further ahead on the scoreboard.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs’ speedy replacement back, Darren Adonis, inflicted further pain on the home side with minutes left as he took advantage of a poor kick to dash his way to the tryline, which dealt the killer blow to the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ hopes of registering a victory.
The home team refused to give up however and they were rewarded for their efforts with replacements Johan Grobbelaar and Conraad van Vuuren forcing their way over the tryline in the dying minutes, but this still left them short at 43-27, marking their second defeat in the competition.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Henco Venter, Benhard Janse van Rensburg (2), Louis Fouche, Jasper Wiese, Darren Adonis; Conversions: Tiaan Schoeman (5); Penalty: Tian Schoeman.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Cornal Hendricks, Ruan Steenkamp, Rosko Specman, Johan Grobbelaar, Conraad van Vuuren; Conversion: Manie Libbok.