The Cheetahs did exactly what they needed to do, claimed a full house of points and didn’t allow the Bulls to get a bonus point, allowing them to clinch top spot on the Currie Cup log with a 35-5 (halftime 28-0) victory at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening.
The hosts went into their final pool match of the season knowing what they had to do to jump back above the Bulls and claim the rights to host a semifinal and the final if they get there, which they did after a clinical first half against the visitors.
The result means the Cheetahs will host the Pumas and the Bulls will host the Griquas in the competition semis next weekend.
The Cheetahs got off to a strong start in the game, flexing their muscle in the forwards as they powered over two maul tries to hooker Louis van der Westhuizen in the opening 15 minutes, with scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar slotting both conversions for a 14-0 lead.
Some good play from the home side then saw them take play into the visitors half, send the ball one way and then back the next, ending with right wing Daniel Kasende receiving the ball 10m out and bulldozing his way over a tackle to score, with another impressive Pienaar touchline conversion making it 21-0 after 26 minutes.
Eight minutes later and the Cheetahs had the bonus point all sewn up as they got close to the line, with Pienaar feeding outside centre David Brits with a short pass to crash over, with the extras giving the hosts a comfortable lead at the break.
Scrappy second half
A bit of a scrappy second half then followed, but not before some early tryline action.
A cynical slap down from Bulls hooker Sidney Tobias early in the half reduced them to 14-men, with the Cheetahs taking the chance to immediately set up a scrum in centre field, in the Bulls half.
After a few resets, the Cheetahs got the stability they needed and attacked off the back, with Pienaar giving the perfect cut out pass to flying fullback Clayton Blommetjies to hit a gap and go over to score, with Pienaar’s conversion putting them 35-0 up after 48 minutes.
Six minutes later the Bulls finally responded with a good try, inside centre Lionel Mapoe making the initial break and then feeding his outside centre partner Stedman Gans to go in at the corner untouched for an unconverted score.
That proved to be the final points of the match as both teams tried to get over the whitewash over the final 25 minutes, but some good turnovers and a number of mistakes meant neither could finish with a flourish.
Cheetahs: Tries – Louis van der Westhuizen (2), Daniel Kasende, David Brits; Conversions – Ruan Pienaar (4)
Bulls: Try – Stedman Gans