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Rugby | Currie Cup

Free State pip Blue Bulls at the death



Wing Makazole Mapimpi scored a hat-trick to help the Toyota Free State Cheetahs clinch a hard fought 41-40 (halftime 17-21) win against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.

Glorious sunny and dry conditions greeted the teams as both the Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs needed to get back to winning ways in South Africa's oldest domestic competition.

The Blue Bulls may have taken an early 3-0 lead courtesy of flyhalf Tony Jantjies' boot but it was the visitors who had the majority of possession and territory as they made serious inroads into the Blue Bulls' half.

Flyhalf Ryno Eksteen may have missed his first penalty attempt but made no mistake in the 12th minute as the youngster levelled the scores.

Quick handling saw scrumhalf Piet van Zyl brought down close to Free State's tryline as the ball was shoveled down the line with outside centre Dries Swanepoel crashing over for the opening try of the match. Jantjies conversion was charged down by speedster Sergeal Petersen.

The visitors hit back from the restart as Mapimpi burst through the line to score untouched but his efforts were undone by Jantjies who slid over the whitewash minutes later.

The Blue Bulls found themselves on the wrong side of the referee as wing Jamba Ulengo was shown a yellow card for repeated team infringements which allowed Free State no.8 Jasper Wiese to score from the resulting scrum.

The dying minutes of the first half belonged to Jantjies who kicked two penalty goals to hand the home team a 21-17 lead at the break but not before flank Shaun Adendorff was shown a yellow card for a deliberate slap down.

Free State flew out of the blocks when the match resumed as they scored two quick tries to Mapimpi and outside centre Francois Venter.

Mapimpi pinned his ears back to run down an astute grubber kick in the 42nd minute while captain Venter scored the bonus point try two minutes later.

Ulengo made amends for his yellow card as he received a beautifully timed pass from fullback Warrick Gelant as the Blue Bulls started to find their feet.

A quick lineout by Jantjies allowed Gelant to canter in for the bonus point try as the home team regained the lead in the 55th minute.

Free State were tested on defence as replacement loose forward Paul Schoeman was sent to the bin in the 57th minute but the Blue Bulls failed to make use of their one man advantage.

Ulengo scored his brace after ripping the ball out of fullback Clayton Blommetjies hands while over the tryline and replacement utility back Joshua Stander was on hand to convert thus giving the men from Pretoria a nine point lead with ten minutes left on the clock.

The final minutes of the match proved to be action packed as Free State closed the gap to four points courtesy of Petersen who ran in untouched.

The Blue Bulls were to be their own worst enemies as they received their third yellow card, this time to scrumhalf Piet van Zyl, which gave the visitors the nail needed to finish off strong as Mapimpi scored his third try six minutes after the final hooter.

SCORERS

Vodacom Blue Bulls - Tries: Dries Swanepoel, Tony Jantjies, Jamba Ulengo (2), Warrick Gelant; Cons: Jantjies (2), Joshua Stander; Pens: Jantjies (3).

Toyota Free State Cheetahs - Tries: Makazole Mapimpi (3), Jasper Wiese, Francois Venter, Sergeal Petersen; Cons: Ryno Eksteen (4); Pen: Eksteen.



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