Simon Borchardt

Cheetahs hold off Bulls in Bloem

The Cheetahs beat the Bulls 19-17 at the Free State Stadium on Friday despite losing captain Ruan Pienaar to a knee injury.

Pienaar left the field in the 15th minute after being tackled by Marco van Staden. According to a sideline report, he may have torn a medial collateral ligament.

The Bulls also suffered an early injury setback when, after a darting run, Gio Aplon was tackled by Clayton Blommetjies.

The Cheetahs scored the only try of the first half, Malcolm Jaer coming off his right wing to create an overlap that put Rosko Specman into space on the left. 

Tian Schoeman kicked the conversion as well as two penalties to give the hosts a 10-3 lead at the break.

Two more Schoeman penalties and another by Morné Steyn made it 16-6, before Ruan Nortje was yellow-carded for a cynical infringement.

But the Bulls outscored the Cheetahs 6-3 while down to 14 men, and when Jacques du Toit went over from a lineout driving maul with two minutes to go, Chris Smith had a chance to level the scores.

The replacement flyhalf had slotted a long-range penalty in the 70th minute, but his conversion attempt went past the left-hand upright. 

The Bulls attacked again after the hooter, only for a knock-on to end their charge.

Cheetahs – Try: Rosko Specman. Conversion: Tian Schoeman. Penalties: Schoeman (4).
Bulls – Try: Joe van Zyl. Penalties: Morné Steyn (3), Chris Smith.

Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Malcolm Jaer, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar (c), 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Aidon Davis, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 William Small-Smith.

Bulls – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 David Kriel, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stedman Gans.

Photo: Frikke Kapp/Gallo Images