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Cheetahs win cliffhanger over belligerent Bulls

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The Cheetahs overcame a late fightback by the Bulls to win 34-28 at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein

Leading 31-14 deep into the second half, the hosts survived a scare from the three-times Super Rugby champions, hanging on for a six-point victory.

Tries from Piet van Zyl and Jamba Ulengo three minutes apart, set up a tense final 15 minutes. Fred Zeilinga’s third penalty with seven minutes to play, saw off the men from Pretoria.

For the first 65 minutes of the match, the Cheetahs looked to be cruising.

A first half brace from Man-of-the-Match Oupa Mohoje, tries from Clinton Swart and Justin Basson, and four conversions by Fred Zeilinga saw the Cheetahs race to a 28-14 halftime lead.

Jason Jenkins’ seventh minute try and nine points from the boot of Handre Pollard, kept the Bulls in the hunt, as they cut the deficit to 14-points at the break.

Zeilinga struck an early second half penalty to extend his team’s lead to 17 points on 58 minutes. The match turned into an arm-wrestle as the sides negated each other with errors and kicking for territory.

As time ticked away, the home fans can be forgiven for thinking that they were about to witness an easy bonus-point win.

The Bulls eventually made the break through with a double-blow. First, Piet Van Zyl picked up a stray ball and scored between the sticks.

Cheetahs saw a three-score lead evaporate in an instant when Ulengo danced his way over the white-wash.

Tian Schoeman kicked both conversions to cut the lead to three, going into the final 10 – “Squeaky-bum time” as a great man once said.

The Bulls couldn’t manage to get another score. Zeilinga’s penalty meant the Cheetahs held out, securing their first win in 2017. The loss consigns the Bulls to their second defeat of the campaign but they do get a losing bonus-point.

Next week the Cheetahs are at home in Bloemfontein again while the Bulls have a bye before they host the Sunwolves at Pretoria in Round 4.

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Final Score Cheetahs 34 (28) Bulls 28 (14)

Scorers

Cheetahs
Tries – Swart, Mahoje (2), Basson
Pen – Zeilinga (2)
Con – Zeilinga (4)
Drop –

Cards –

Bulls
Tries – Jenkins, Van Zyl, Ulengo
Pen – Pollard (2)
Con – Pollard, Schoeman (2)
Drop –

Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Shuhei Kubo
Assistant Ref 1:AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2:Lourens van der Merwe
TMO :Marius Jonker

Teams

Cheetahs

1. Ox Nche, 2. Torsten van Jaarsveld (C), 3. Johan Coetzee, 4. Justin Basson, 5. Reniel Hugo, 6. Uzair Cassiem, 7. Oupa Mohoje, 8. Paul Schoeman, 9. Tian Meyer (VC), 10. Fred Zeilinga, 11. Raymond Rhule, 12. Clinton Swart, 13. Nico Lee, 14. Ryno Benjamin, 15. Clayton Blommetjies,

Replacements: 16. Elandré Huggett, 17. Charles Marais, 18. Danie Mienie, 19. Francois Uys, 20. Niell Jordaan, 21. Boom Prinsloo, 22. Zee Mkhabela, 22. Niel Marais, 23. Ruan van Rensbu

Bulls

15. Jesse Kriel, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Burger Odendaal, 12. Dries Swanepoel, 11. Jamba Ulengo, 10. Handré Pollard (c), 9. Rudy Paige, 8. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Jacques Potgieter, 6. Nick de Jager, 5. RG Snyman, 4. Jason Jenkins, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Jaco Visagie, 1. Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements: 16. Edgar Marutlulle, 17. Pierre Schoeman, 18. Jacobie Adriaanse, 19. Renaldo Bothma, 20. Ruan Steenkamp, 21. Piet van Zyl, 22. Tian Schoeman, 23. Warrick Gelant.

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