Bulls haul themselves off the bottom

SIMON BORCHARDT saw the Blue Bulls survive a spirited second-half comeback from the Free State Cheetahs to win 34-30 at Loftus.

The Bulls have been ridiculed for being bottom of the Premier Division log in recent weeks, but that dubious distinction now belongs to the Cheetahs, who may well find themselves in a promotion-relegation play-off against the First Division champions.

The Bulls led 17-9 at the break thanks to four penalties from flyhalf Louis Fouché and a 13th-minute try to winger Sampie Mastriet. Cheetahs winger Nico Scheepers slotted three penalties to keep his side in the game.

The hosts extended their lead early in the second half when a sniping break from scrumhalf Jano Vermaak resulted in a first Currie Cup try for lock Franco Mostert. Fouché kicked the conversion and added a penalty soon after to make it 27-9.

But the Cheetahs hit back with a well-worked try from outside centre Raymond Rhule and the simplest of conversions from Scheepers, which was only awarded after being reviewed by the TMO. Scheepers then scored a try with 17 minutes to go to make it a six-point ball game.

However, the Bulls secured the win in the 75th minute when replacement loose forward CJ Stander planted the ball on the tryline, although loosehead prop Marcel van der Merwe earned the visitors a bonus point with a try of his own just before full-time.