Marco van Staden scored two tries as the Vodacom Bulls hammered the Cheetahs 40-13 at Loftus on Saturday.
Jake White’s Bulls have replicated the excellent form they displayed in Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked in the Currie Cup, showing no signs of slowing down. It looks for all money as though the blue train is steaming ahead to yet another domestic title.
Morne Steyn produced a kicking masterclass returning six out of six off the tee. Frans Steyn also kicked well for the Cheetahs, launching a couple of long-range efforts, but his display wasn’t as flawless as that of his namesake.
In a fairly even first half, the sides were inseparable in terms of performance as well as on the scoreboard. The Bulls controlled the opening 20 minutes, but the Cheetahs bounced back well in the second quarter to even things up.
The hosts made a promising start and their dominance was rewarded with 10 straight points. Morne Steyn slotted an early penalty and moments later Embrose Papier scuttled away to finish off a brilliant counter-attacking try. Transitioning from defence to attack in a sweeping move, the ball was sent to Duane Vermeulen who found himself in the wide channel. He drew in a defender and released wing Marco Jansen van Vuren, who in turn freed Papier on the inside.
The Cheetahs responded with two well-struck long-range penalties from the ever-impressive boot of Frans Steyn. It has to be said that those penalties came from a dominant Cheetahs scrum. The visitors were all over the Bulls at scrum time, forcing White to replace Marcel van der Merwe with Trevor Nyakane around the 30-minute mark in an attempt to turn their fortunes around at the set piece.
By then, Morne Steyn had added a second penalty to the Bulls’ tally, but the Cheehas had the last say in the half when Reinhardt Fortuin stepped his way around Cornal Hendricks for a converted try. The young flyhalf was a late inclusion following the withdrawal of Tian Schoeman just before kick-off.
The 13-13 scoreline at the midway mark set up the second half nicely. But, as it turned out, there was only one side that came out with the intensity and urgency to clinch the win. The hosts scored three unanswered tries, two from Van Staden and one from replacement flyhalf Chris Smith, to topple the Cheetahs.
Before his departure, though, Morne Steyn nailed two further penalties to get the Bulls on the front foot. After he was pulled off, the Bulls went on that try frenzy to secure a bonus-point win.
Bulls – Tries: Embrose Papier, Marco van Staden (2), Chris Smith. Conversions: Morne Steyn (2), Smith (2). Penalties: Steyn (4).
Cheetahs – Try: Reinhardt Fortuin. Conversion: Frans Steyn. Penalties: Frans Steyn (2).
Bulls – 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 David Kriel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Subs: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marnus Potgieter.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Victor Sekekete, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Kutha Mchunu, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Boan Venter.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Chris Massyn, 20 George Cronje, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Chris Smit, 23 William Small-Smith.