The Free State Cheetahs pulled off the double over the Blue Bulls with a near-clinical 29-17 victory at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.
The Bulls had begun with plenty of gusto but soon found themselves running out of steam and handing the game to the Cheetahs.
Bulls flyhalf Derick Hougaard was first to bother the scoreboard operator with a penalty in the 11th minute.
The Cheetahs had done well to absorb the Bulls’ early pressure and waited until the 16th minute to unleash their backline, with flyhalf Willem de Waal running freely to the tryline after starting the move deep in his half with Gavin Passens.
The Bulls paid the price for not sticking to their game plan and allowed the Cheetahs to gain a grip on proceedings with Alwyn Hollenbach adding another try for the Cheetahs in the 22nd minute. Eddie Fredericks did well to field a high ball, counter-attacked from his 22m and put through a grubber kick for Hollenbach to dive onto.
The Cheetahs went into the half-time interval with a 15-3 lead after Willem de Waal slotted over a penalty in the 34th minute.
Five minutes into the second half the Cheetahs further extended their lead when lock David de Villiers had a free sprint to the tryline.
The Bulls fought back and their efforts paid off as prop Jaco Engels crashed over in the 64th minute.
Four minutes later wing Danwel Demas was on hand to pick up a grubber from Dewald Potgieter to score in the corner and haul the Bulls within five points of the Cheetahs at 17-22.
The Cheetahs, though, quickly regained their composure and struck the final blow when JW Jonker crashed over in the 76th minute to condemn the Bulls to an awkward semifinal against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. — Sapa
Blue Bulls: Tries: Jaco Engels, Danwel Demas. Conversions: Morne Steyn (2). Penalty: Derick Hougaard
FS Cheetahs: Tries: Willem de Waal, Alwyn Hollenbach, David De Villiers, JW Jonker. Conversions: Willem de Waal (2), Tewis de Bruyn. Penalty: Willem de Waal