Handré Pollard contributed 29 points as the Vodacom Bulls claimed a 39-20 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
The Bulls followed up their impressive win over the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld last weekend, with another strong showing in Bloemfontein. Pollard was once again instrumental for the Bulls, turning in another flawless kicking performance while providing a constant threat on attack.
There were question marks once again over the refereeing performance, and the Bulls tended to enjoy the rub of the green, but they were far and away the better team over the course of the 80 minutes.
The Cheetahs, despite coming into the match on the back of two wins in the first three weeks of competition, failed to get going. They struggled in the scrums against former players Adriaan Strauss and Trevor Nyakane, while their defence – so resolute in the victory over the Blues – was in a generous mood during the first half.
The Bulls held a comfortable 23-6 lead at half-time, with tries from Pollard and Bjorn Basson the difference between the two sides. The second, through Basson, came after a great break from Strauss, while the hands from Victor Matfield and JJ Engelbrecht were a far cry from the ponderous play of the opening two weeks.
Tries from Raymond Rhule and Boom Prinsloo briefly raised hopes of a comeback, as the Cheetahs closed the score to 26-20 with a quarter of the match remaining. However, after failing to exit properly, Pollard made them pay with another penalty before rounding out his virtuoso performance with a drop goal.
Jan Serfontein completed the rout with a well-deserved try. The victory moves the Bulls above their hosts and into the play-off places as they continue to put their shaky start to the season behind them.
Cheetahs – Tries: Raymond Rhule, Boom Prinsloo. Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2). Penalties: Pietersen (2).
Bulls – Tries: Handré Pollard, Bjorn Basson, Jan Serfontein. Conversions: Pollard (3). Penalties: Pollard (5). Drop goal: Pollard.
Cheetahs – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee. 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Steven Sykes, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Johann Sadie.
Bulls – 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Morné Mellett.
Subs: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Piet van Zyl, 23 Jürgen Visser.
Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix