Steyn stars as Currie Cup leaders Bulls tame Cheetahs

·2 min read
Bulls fly-half Morne Steyn kicked 16 points in a victory over the Cheetahs to become joint leading scorer in the South African Currie Cup.

Springboks fly-half Morne Steyn kicked 16 points as the Bulls confirmed they are the team to beat in the South African Currie Cup this season by crushing the Cheetahs 40-13 in Pretoria on Saturday.

The 36-year-old playmaker, who played his last Test in 2016, slotted four penalties and two conversions in a flawless performance from the tee and his tactical kicking was equally superb at Loftus Versfeld stadium.

When he was replaced, substitute Chris Smith did equally well, scoring a try and converting two for a team who hold an eight-point lead in the standings over the second-place Sharks.

The Bulls scored four tries for a bonus-point victory with flanker Marco van Staden claiming two and scrum-half Embrose Papier and Smith one each.

Two-time Rugby World Cup winner Francois Steyn kicked two long-range penalties for the Cheetahs and converted a try by fly-half Reinhardt Fortuin, a Currie Cup debutant.

A key decision in the match came after 34 minutes when Bulls coach Jake White replaced struggling tighthead prop Marcus van der Merwe with Springbok Trevor Nyakane.

Nyakane had an immediate stabilising influence and the Bulls no longer found themselves being shoved back at scrums and being penalised.

- 'Make life difficult' -

"We showed great character to secure a bonus point victory," said 2019 World Cup-winning loose forward and Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen.

"Our superiority at the lineouts came about because we contested every Cheetahs throw and were determined to make life difficult for their jumpers."

Trailing by 10 points midway through the first half, the Cheetahs fought back to be level at 13-13 by half-time.

But the second half belonged to the Bulls as they scored 27 unanswered points with Van Staden twice showing incredible strength to barge over the try-line.

Meanwhile, full-back Tiaan Swanepoel almost matched Steyn by scoring 15 points from five penalties as the Lions pipped Western Province 22-19 after a thriller at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

His most important kick came in additional time as he succeeded with a close-range kick to give his side a three-point victory after they trailed 19-9 on 52 minutes.

Lions captain and fly-half Elton Jantjies has been the first-choice goal-kicker for many seasons, but after missing his first attempt against Province, he promoted Swanepoel.

The full-back did not disappoint, scoring from five of six penalty attempts, while Jantjies converted a try by winger Stean Pienaar, who caught Province napping when he took a quick tap penalty.

Province changed goal-kickers ahead of the match with coach John Dobson preferring fly-half Tim Swiel to full-back Damian Willemse and the switch was rewarded.

Swiel did not miss a shot at goal, kicking four penalties and a converting a well-worked try by winger Seabelo Senatla.

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