Ebersohn steals victory at Loftus
Young star Sias Ebersohn showed tremendous nerve and grit to send through a sideline conversion after the final whistle to give the Vodacom Free State Cheetahs a nail-biting 25-23 victory over the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.
Ebersohn’s kick curled in to send the Cheetahs players into wild celebrations as they clawed their way back from behind to steal the game from under the Blue Bull noses after Skipper Badenhorst had gone in at the corner at the death.
It was a remarkable victory for Naka Drotske’s men, especially after they were chasing the game throughout and had the majority of possession but were unable to break a tough Bulls defence for most of the match.
The Bulls will be upset with a number of interpretations at the breakdown with referee Pro Legoete, but in a game where adapting to the referee is paramount, they paid for their indiscipline.
The Cheetahs adapted better to the conditions, took their chances when presented to them and managed to upset the young Bulls side into mistakes at crucial times.
But despite having the wealth of possession the closest they came to the tryline before the final move was when prop Coenie Oosthuizen, who had a storming game, was stopped short twice in TMO decisions that went against his team.
Springbok flanker Juan Smith had a massive day, and was the pillar of his side’s victory, while Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss, Hennie Daniller and Robert Ebersohn all had massive games, while Tertius Carse’s cameo in the second half ensured his side remained on the front foot.
The Bulls will be happy with the performances of Stefan Watermeyer, Derick Kuün, Wilhelm Steenkamp and prop Dean Greyling, while youngsters CJ Stander and Gerrit-Jan van Velze both showed some great form in their time on the field.
The Bulls were all fire and brimstone in their start, as they racked up an early 10-0 lead. Jacques-Louis Potgieter’s boot opened the scoring before a 30 metre lineout drive gave enough momentum for Kuün to go over for the try.
Potgieter and Louis Strydom swopped two penalties apiece before the latter slotted his third penalty to leave the teams 16-9 at the break.
The penalties kept racking up against the Bulls, who failed to adapt to Legoete’s rulings on rolling away from the ruck, and it wasn’t long before Strydom kept the scoreboard ticking and let his side creep to 16-15 behind the Bulls.
Then a moment of fortune for the Bulls, as they surged up to the Cheetah line and when the ball went wide, Stefan Watermeyer tried a switch to his midfield partner Stephan Dippenaar which bounced into his hands and back to Watermeyer to run in and score. The Cheetahs protests for a knock forward were ignored by Legoete, who awarded the try.
The Bulls looked set to close it out minutes later when they were again penalised on the Cheetah tryline, sending the Cheetahs surging back upfield. A break by Carse led to another penalty, which Sias Ebersohn, who had just appeared on the field, slotted to bring his side within five points.
The Cheetahs kept the ball away from the Bulls and just kept on coming, forcing more penalties and soaking up the field position as they continued to dominate. Eventually something had to give, and Badenhorst had enough space to run in for the try.
When Ebersohn showed the perfect touch with the boot from the touchline, it gave the Cheetahs a memorable victory after coming so close so often at Loftus Versfeld.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – tries: Derick Kuün, Stefan Watermeyer. Conversions:
Jacques-Louis Potgieter (2). Penalties: Potgieter (3)
Vodacom Free State Cheetahs – try: Skipper Badenhorst. Conversion: Sias Ebersohn. Penalties: Louis Strydom (5), Sias Ebersohn.