Bulls caught out by Cheetahs
17 August 2012 | HEINZ SCHENK
JOHANNESBURG - Haphazard in defeat to the Lions last week, the hosts built on a cracking start and then fed on the myriad of mistakes made by their opponents to repel them.
Ominously, the Bulls’ capriciousness cost them dearly as early as the 45th second of the contest when they conceded a turnover from the kick-off, trying to carry up the ball one phase too many.
Some snappy service from the resultant possession by Sarel Pretorius and patient phase play culminated in second rower Andries Ferreira barging over from close range.
It was the perfect morale boost for a revamped combination, who, without truly dominating, relished the collisions and offered a marked improvement in the set-pieces – their Achilles heel at Ellis Park last weekend.
In fact, by the second half they had even pilfered two of the Bulls’ lineout balls.
But it was their marking that was a highlight.
Admittedly they did allow the Bulls space on numerous occasions, especially from some inaccurate tactical kicking, but scrambled really well to prevent potential scoring phases.
Their increased presence in the bumps also meant the Bulls spilt balls in the tackle from their pick-and-go’s.
And while they had ample opportunities against the Lions that were squandered, they showcased their improved sharpness in exploiting another Bulls infringement – this time a penalty in their strike zone – swiftly tapping and taking the ball through the motions before Pretorius delightfully held a pass back to create space for Kambamba Floors to go over.
It was just reward for the forgotten one-cap Springbok, who shrugged off some early collisions where he came off second best to provide a typically busy and courageous performance.
His score gave the Cheetahs their 23-10 advantage shortly before the turnaround after the Bulls had narrowed the deficit to 13-10 after a marauding CJ Stander, a late replacement for regular skipper Dewald Potgieter, dived over in the left-hand corner after the backs exploited a neat skip pass.
The Bulls took a lot of initiative, particularly in the second half, but they were simply hamstrung by their indiscipline – a fact that will infuriate coach Pine Pienaar, who earlier in the week boasted how well his charges had kept themselves in check in an opening win over Griquas.
Riaan Smit, moved from pivot to wing, illustrated his value with a fine kicking performance, punishing every indiscretion he was tasked with.
The visitors’ perseverance in the latter stages saw the magnificent Stander round off a sweeping move from striking range to close the gap but it was all too late.
It was a first win for the Cheetahs and a first loss for the Bulls.
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