Cheetahs finally beat Bulls
The Cheetahs made history on Friday by recording their first-ever Super Rugby victory over the Bulls, winning 15-9 in a try-less clash in difficult conditions in Bloemfontein.
It's taken twelve attempts for the Cheetahs to claim the scalp of South Africa's most successful franchise but beyond the positive result for the home side, it was hardly a memorable clash at the Free State Stadium.
Usually a sure bet to excite, it was the Cheetahs' defence that secured the win this time as they abandoned their usual free-flowing style for a safety-first approach on a very wet, stormy night on the Highveld.
A scrappy first half came to an end with the Cheetahs up 12-3 as Johan Goosen ruled the battle of the boot against his opposite number, Louis Fouche.
The Cheetahs looked the more dangerous side with ball in hand, though the Bulls enjoyed almost two-thirds of the territory but were unable to unlock the Cheetahs' well-organised defence.
Indeed, the wet conditions put a damper on attacking play and there was just one clear try-scoring opportunity for either side, but a Bulls fumble just short of the line
summed up a game short on any real excitement.
The highlight of the first half probably came in the opening minute, when Goosen slotted a lovely drop-goal from long range.
The Bulls weren't doing themselves any favours as Fouche missed two very kickable penalties and his replacement early in the second half, Handrè Pollard missed his first attempt too.
Pollard was introduced alongside Victor Matfield early in the second stanza as the visitors looked to take a grip of the game.
The Cheetahs continued to miss long-range drop-goal attempts but Pollard made no mistake with his second effort from the tee to narrow the gap at 12-6.
However Goosen handed his fourth penalty to restore the nine-point lead on the hour-mark as the rain went from a drizzle to torrential.
A late Pollard penalty saved a bonus point for the Bulls.
The Cheetahs now head to Australia to face the Rebels while the Bulls will host the Lions in Pretoria.
Pens: Goosen 4
Pens: Fouche, Pollard 2
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagné, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Rynard Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller.
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Flip van der Merwe (capt), 4 Grant Hattingh, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Wian Liebenberg, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handrè Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)