Blue Bulls put themselves in with a semifinal shot
The visitors ran in 10 tries as their bonus point win moved them from sixth to fourth on log with 27 points from 11 matches.
The Blue Bulls will still have to watch on anxiously as the Pumas (sixth with 24 points) and Golden Lions (fifth with 25 points) are in action at home against the Griquas and Western Province at home on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
The Cheetahs may still be in with a semi-final shout but their second consecutive abject performance doesn’t bode well for their title defence prospects after another hammering. Last week they were on the receiving end of a 59-24 hammering against the Griquas in Kimberley.
The Blue Bulls held a slender 26-22 half-time lead even though they were the superior side as the game produced three hat tricks. They scored four tries through Burger Odendaal (two)‚ Warrick Gelant and Ivan van Zyl as the Cheetahs’ defensive shortcomings were repeatedly exposed.
The Cheetahs also had to spend 10 minutes without captain Chris Dry‚ who was sin-binned for sealing the ball off at the ruck in the 18th minute. To Dry’s credit‚ he was able to marshal his troops to an excellent end to the first half where a 37th and 42nd minute brace from Daniel Maartens allowed the hosts to go into the break trailing by four points instead of the 16-point cushion the Bulls had after Gelant’s 33rd minute try.
Odendaal was an unstoppable try-scoring force in the 13th and 21st but his over-eagerness denied him a first half hattrick in the 30th minute when he knocked on inside the try line after left wing Johnny Kotze was tripped up just before the line.
Odendaal landed his triple two minutes after the restart as the home side’s defence was again caught napping in the wide channels. The Cheetahs weren’t about the giving up business and through Maartens’s try from a rolling maul in the 48th minute.
The Cheetahs though didn’t have the magic spark Gelant was providing from the back‚ with the future Springbok fullback providing the grubber that led to Duncan Matthews’s 52nd try. The Bulls added further 62nd and 65th minute tries from Johan Grobbelaar and Tim Agaba to cross the half-century mark but the hosts still had fuel left in the tank through Stephan Janse van Rensburg.
The Bulls were not finished as Gelant completed his hattrick with tries in the 75th and 79th minutes to seal the Bulls’ fourth and most timely win of the season.
Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Lloyd Greef‚ Daniel Maartens (3)‚ Stephen Janse van Rensburg‚
Conversions: Robbie Petzer (2)‚ JP Smith
Tries: Ivan van Zyl‚ Burger Odendaal (3)‚ Warrick Gelant (3‚ Duncan Matthews‚ Johan Grobbelaar‚ Tim Agaba‚
Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (5)‚ Tony Jantjies