Three-time Super Rugby champions the Bulls host local rivals the Cheetahs in this ninth round South African derby clash.
The Bulls and the Cheetahs have played each other 18 times in Super Rugby and the Bulls have won all but four matches.
Both sides have only won two games this campaign but, the Cheetahs have looked the better team. The Bulls have been poor but did beat a very good Jaguares last weekend.
Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard injured his ankle at training on Thursday. Pollard is set to be sidelined for about 10 weeks and might be back sometime in June.
Nollis Marais is under huge pressure and the home support will be expecting another victory at Loftus tonight.
The Cheetahs will be missing Sergeal Petersen due to a hamstring injury; his position on the right wing will be taken by William Small-Smith for his first Super Rugby game this season.
Weather conditions are good in Pretoria and should make for running rugby.
Francois Venter leads the Free State side out. The referee for this game will be Ben O’Keeffe of New Zealand.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
BEEP! Tian Schoeman starts the match with a deep kick.
2.00: Shaun Venter kicks a big up-and-under; Warrick Gelant and Jamba Ulengo bump into each other and the referee says Ulengo knocked the ball on. Scrum to the Cheetahs inside the Bulls half.
3.00: The scrum is reset and the field is already cutting up.
4.00: Francois Venter chases a grubber and Ulengo kicks the ball into touch; lineout to the Cheetahs on the Bulls’ 5.
5.00: Bulls are penalised for collapsing the maul. Neil Marais attempts a cross-kick but it goes out. Cheetahs will have another lineout.
6.00: TRY Paul Schoeman! The Cheetahs set up a driving maul; the maul is stopped, initially, but Schoeman shifts, peels right and crosses the whitewash with the help of Torsten van Jaarsveld.
7.00: Niel Marais can’t add the touchline conversion.
9.00: The cheetahs come again. The visitors go through multiple phases and win a penalty at the ruck. Marais calls for the kicking tee.
10.00: PENALTY! Marais extends his team’s lead to 8-0. The flyhalf’s missed conversion was his first miss of the season.
13.00: Paul Schoeman is penalised at the breakdown after the Bulls took the ball through twelve phases. Adriaan Strauss is off to the blood-bin. Jaco Visagie replaces his skipper. Tain Schoeman will take a shot at goal.
14.00: Schoeman pulls it just past the left-hand upright.
16.00: Tian Schoeman kicks to touch after the Cheetahs are pinged for not rolling away – Paul Schoeman is the culprit, again.
17.00: The Bulls are attacking and… lose the ball; the Cheetahs clear.
20.00: After a lengthy kicking duel, the Cheetahs knock the ball forward. It is only their second handling error of the game. Adriaan Strauss is back on the field with a bandaged head.
21.00: The scrum is reset. Charles Marais is penalised for collapsing.
22.00: Tian Schoeman kicks deep and Strauss will throw into the lineout on the opposition’s 22.
24.00: Some big collisions in midfield. Ouch! Bulls still attacking and have gone 14 phases.
25.00: The Bulls keep coming, recycling quickly and they win a penalty after 19 phases. Sjoe! Tian Schoeman calls for the tee – he is 10 from 11 for the season (91 percent).
26.00: PENALTY! It’s good. Schoeman had to take that quickly because the ball fell over. Lucky, he was in front and in close range. The Bulls are on the board.
27.00: Jannes Kirsten is penalised for tackling the man while off his feet at a ruck.
28.00: Niel Marais finds touch and the Cheetahs win a scrum, about eight metres out from the Bulls’ try-line.
30.00: The scrum is not stable and the ref calls on the front rows to be steady and not to engage early. Reset.
31.00: Some excellent rush defence by the hosts causes Nico Lee to lose the ball trying to collect his flyhalf’s pass. Scrum to the Bulls inside their 22. Getting scrappy now.
32.00: BIG SCRUM from Charles Marais. Jacobie Adriaans is penalised for collapsing under the pressure and Niel Marais will look to extend the lead back to eight.
33.00: PENALTY! Niel Marais makes it 3-11.
34.00: Armandt Koster knocks the ball forward after a wonderful break by William Small-Smith. Scrum to the Bulls in their 22.
35.00: Clayton Blommetjies gathers the ball inside his 22 and returns with a massive kick into touch. The Bulls will have a lineout near halfway.
37.00: Great cover defence from Raymond Rhule, who collectsWarrick Gelant’s kick and the ball is cleared. The cheetahs are attacking inside the Bulls half.
38.00: The Cheetahs attack wide but, Charles Marais loses the ball into touch. The Bulls get a scrum as it was called a knock on by Ben O’Keeffe; good call too.
40.00: Both teams are trying to run the ball but, the handling is letting them down. The hooter sounds and that’s all for the first 40 minutes.
The half-time score was Bulls 3 Cheetahs 11
BEEP! We are back underway in Pretoria.
42.00: Cheetahs are running with the ball and get tackled into touch. Line-out Bulls. Bulls play it short. Penalty and Schoeman kicks for touch. Line-out Bulls. It’s for not rolling away and being off their feet.
43.00: Another penalty at the driving maul. Oupa Mohoje came in from the side. Tian Schoeman kicks into touch. The Bulls are really turning it on in the tight loose.
45.00: The Cheetahs get a lineout and Torsten van Jaarsveld throws deep to Paul Schoeman. The Cheetahs set up a ruck, Shaun Venter passes to Clayton Blommetjies, who clears his line’s.
46.00: Mohoje is replaced Uzair Cassiem. The lineout is on halfway but lost forward. Scrum on the Cheetahs’ 10.
47.00: BIG SCRUM! And the cheetahs get the penalty. Jacobie Adriaanse is dominated by Charles Marais: again.
49.00: William Small-Smith saves the day at the back but, steps into touch. The Bulls will have another lineout inside the opposition’s half.
50.00: WOW! Niel Marais wins the penalty against three Bulls forwards at the breakdown. He clears his lines.
52.00: The game is being played between the 22s, with both teams looking for territory and trying to establish a forward orientated power game.
54.00: Nick de Jager makes a break and is supported by his fellow forwards. The Bulls stretch the Cheetahs to the wide right of the field then, peel back in-field and set up a ruck.
55.00: TRY Jacques Potgieter! The substitute has added fresh legs and he collects Piet van Zyl’s pass and barges over two defenders.
56.00: Tian Schoeman adds the two and it’s a one-point game.
58.00: The teams are emptying their benches and, other than Torsten van Jaarsveld, the front rows are new.
60.00: The Cheetahs are not committing at the breakdown and, instead, are fanning out. The Bulls are flooding the ruck and starting to get momentum as the game enters the final quarter.
62.00: the Cheetahs run the ball out from their half and have the Bulls under pressure. Lizo Gqoboka with a huge cleanout but the Bulls are penalised. Niel Marais will have another shot from distance.
63.00: PENALTY! Niels Marais kicks his third penalty and puts the lead to four points.
66.00: The Bulls handling is poor; they can’t find a way through and has no direction. They win a penalty and that looks like the only way they will score.
67.00: PENALTY! Tian Schoeman slots a massive penalty from inside his own half and cuts the deficit to one point.
70.00: A Cheetahs player is tackled without the ball and they get the penalty. Lucky, because the Bulls are piling on the pressure.
73.00: TRY Jesse Kriel! Wow! The Bulls counter-attack from deep; they send the ball wide. Ulengo makes the break and sends an offload to Burger Odendaal, who passes to Kriel to score under the posts.
74.00: Schoeman adds the conversion and the Bulls lead.
78.00: The cheetahs are camped inside the Bulls’ 22.
79.00: DESPERATE DEFENCE! Raymond Rhule is tackled into touch – on the try-line – and that is the ball game. Phew!
80.00: BEEP! BEEP!
Final score: Bulls 20 (3) Cheetahs 14 (11)
Tries – Potgieter, Kriel
Pen – T. Schoeman (2)
Con – T. Schoeman (2)
Tries – P. Schoeman
Pen – N. Marais (3)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2: AJ Jacobs
TMO: Willie Vos
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Jacques Potgieter, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Franco Naude.
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Uzair Cassiem, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga