GARETH DUNCAN writes the Bulls were physically superior in their convincing 51-19 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
While it’s still early days in their transition into a new era, the Bulls were dominant in an impressive overall performance. On attack, they were elusive and clinical with their heavies setting the main momentum up front. Their tight five must be credited for their contribution. On defence, they were ferocious in the tackle and their counter-rucking at the breakdown was top class. Flyhalf Morne Steyn also delivered a good kicking display, slotting nine of his 10 goal attempts for a personal haul of 21 points.
The Cheetahs were stronger at the scrums, but they struggled to restrict the rampant visitors, who finished the match with 13 men following Francois Hougaard’s red card for a dangerous tackle and Jacques Potgieter’s yellow card for a shoulder charge. Even with the player advantage, the home side couldn’t trouble the Bulls as they looked disjointed for most parts of the match.
The Bulls’ victory was built on a burly first-half showing, which saw them secure the four-try bonus point before the break.
The first try from Dean Greyling was a controversial one. The player was tackled and the breakdown was formed. He then tried to place the ball over the tryline while on the ground. He achieved this on the second attempt. Referee Craig Joubert asked the TMO for ‘a reason why he couldn’t award the try’ as he saw the ball successfully grounded, and the latter said he found none. However, it was a clear double movement. Why is the TMO not allowed to discuss all the problematic areas, despite the question asked? This decision will be a talking point in the coming week.
You couldn’t doubt the next three tries, though, as the Bulls thrived with the upper hand in the forwards battle. The continuous ball carries did massive damage to the Cheetahs defence, and saw Werner Kruger, Bjorn Basson and Zane Kirchner cross the whitewash. The Cheetahs could only manage four Johan Goosen penalties as the Bulls led 31-12 at the break.
Hougaard was shifted to wing midway through the second half, but that return was shortlived as he was sent off for a tip tackle on Robert Ebersohn. The Cheetahs grabbed a consolation try moments later as Adriaan Strauss powered through.
This did little to halt the Bulls’ march as replacement wing JJ Engelbrecht hit back with an interception try while Kirchner showed great composure for a chip-and-chase score. Potgieter was sent to the sin bin after his hit on Heinrich Brussow late in the match, but by then, the Bulls were already celebrating a compelling victory.