Bulls race clear in 100-point thriller
The final score said 64-36, with the Bulls scoring 10 tries – exactly double the number of their hoists.
It was certainly entertaining, but as has been the case all season, defence was not at a premium in this game – especially not for the Cheetahs.
The fact that three players scored hat-tricks tells a story all of its own.
Burger Odendaal, Warrick Gelant AND Daniel Maartens CROSSED THE TRYLINE THREE TIMES.
The Blue Bulls had the bulk of the possession in the opening 20 minutes as they ran the home team ragged with Free State being exposed on defence.
Scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl drew first blood in the 10th minute as the nippy halfback caught Free State's defence napping with a quick tap which allowed him to score a soft try.
Odendaal followed up with a great try in the corner which gave the visitors a 12 point cushion.
Free State were next to cross the whitewash despite losing captain and flank Chris Dry to a yellow card for repeated team infringements in the 18th minute.
Their opening try came courtesy of forgotten Junior Springbok and inside centre Lloyd Greeff who ran a sublime line to score a converted try.
Free State struggled to contain the blue juggernaut as Odendaal scored his brace in the same corner as his first with 19 minutes left on the clock.
Free State flyhalf Robbie Petzer pulled back three points via his boot but it did little to stem the Blue Bulls' attacking intent as Gelant scored their bonus point try in the 33rd minute.
A player who warms the bench generally provides much needed impact once he gets on the field and that is exactly what happened as replacement flank Daniel Maartens brought his team back into the match with two tries.
Maartens, a former Varsity Cup winner with Shimlas, proved his weight in gold as he was on hand to receive an inside pass that put him in space to canter over the tryline while he scored his second try two minutes after the hooter from a dominant line-out drive.
Petzer's missed conversion brought an end to the first half with the Blue Bulls holding a slender 26-22 lead.
The men from Pretoria kept their foot on the pedal after the break as Odendaal got his hat-trick two minutes after the restart.
The visitors have improved dramatically on attack as the Currie Cup has progressed this year but their defence has seen them lose any advantage over a team. This was highlighted in the 49th minute as Maartens got his hat-trick after another dominant line-out drive.
Gelant, who is knocking loudly on the Springbok door, showed why he is destined for higher honours shortly after Maartens' effort as the elusive fullback put in a deft kick for wing Duncan Matthews to chase and score.
The visitors were in sensational form as the second half progressed with replacement hooker Johan Grobbelaar and BlitzBok cum flank Tim Agaba dotting down.
Free State pulled a try back through replacement utility back Stephan Janse van Rensburg but it was a case of a little too late as Gelant secured his hat-trick with tries in the 75th and 78th minute.
Replacement utility back Tony Jantjies conversion of Gelant's try proved to be the final nail in the coffin as the Blue Bulks ended the match with a 64-36 away win to keep their semifinal hopes alive.
Man of the match: Cheetahs scrumhalf Mthokozisi Mkhabela was lively, No.8 Jasper Wiese a handful and replacement Daniel Maartens showed his value with a hat-trick of tries. Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl further enhanced his already impressive reputation. Fullback Warrick Gelant showed he is not just dangerous with ball in hand, but also very creative – setting up a sublime try for Duncan Matthews. Gelant's three tries made him a strong candidate. Bulls captain and centre Burger Odendaal was the spark that got the Bulls going and he scored a hat-trick himself – winning our award.
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Greeff, Maartens 3, Janse van Rensburg
Cons: Petzer 3, Smith
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries: I van Zyl, Odendaal 3, Gelant 3, Matthews, Grobbelaar, Agaba
Cons: Boshoff 5, Jantjies 2
Yellow cards: Chris Dry (Free State Cheetahs, 18 – repeated infringements, slowing the ball down at the tackle), Tim Agaba (Blue Bulls, 72 – cynical foul, not retreating 10 metres)
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Jacobus Jonker, 13 Aliqhayiya Mgijima, 12 Lloyd Greeff, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Robbie Petzer, 9 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Nicolaas Immelman, 6 Chris Dry (captain), 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Dennis Visser, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Johan Kotze.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Gunther Janse van Vuuren, 18 Andrew Kuhn, 19 Jeremy Jordaan, 20 Daniel Maartens, 21 Juan-Philip Smith, 22 Stephan Janse van Rensburg.
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Burger Odendaal (captain), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Ashton Fortuin, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Jano Venter, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Darren Colby
TMO: Lourens van der Merwe