Bulls edge past feisty Cheetahs

2014-05-04 00:36

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The Bulls made a cautious effort to play more expansive rugby but in the end their old values came to the fore as they beat the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld last night.

There were clear signs that the Bulls intended moving the ball more, a mind-set which led to a much-improved showing from scrum half Francois Hougaard, but it was the things they have always done well that enabled Victor Matfield and his men to overturn a 16-21 deficit after 56 minutes to wrest a crucial victory.

Both Bulls tries came from forwards, with Paul Willemse and Callie Visagie showing oxen-like pulling power to drag themselves over the line, with three different kickers adding the vital points off

the boot.

Skipper Matfield deserves a lot of credit for kicking penalties to touch to set up drives, both of which were successful, rather than trying to edge nearer through kicks.

With most of the country’s young locks currently crocked, Matfield, both in his general play and captaincy, provided more proof that if national coach Heyneke Meyer needs him for the midyear tests, he will be ready.

The Bulls conceded a long-range interception try to Johann Sadie and were perplexed by some of the decisions made by referee Marius van der Westhuizen – in particular fly half Handrè Pollard being somewhat unfairly yellow-carded for making a tackle before he had retreated as Sarel Pretorius quickly tapped a penalty and darted forward.

With the ball moving in the line more frequently than one is accustomed to seeing at Loftus, the Cheetahs were in their element, moving the ball fluidly and always looking to attack and providing plenty of opportunities for Willie le Roux to make dangerous incursions.

But coach Naka Drotské will have to interrogate what is causing the Cheetahs to let slip in matches they seem to be in charge of.

Earlier at Newlands, the Stormers made a gallant effort to play more attacking rugby but had to survive

15 nerve-racking minutes before registering just their third win of the season by downing the Highlanders.

Skipper Jean de Villiers made a clear statement of intent when he quickly tapped a penalty near the Highlanders’ posts to set in motion the sequence that led to prop Frans Malberbe’s opening try before two minutes had lapsed.

In Melbourne on Friday, the Sharks became the first local team to score a win overseas by downing the Rebels 22-16.

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