Close encounter of fifth kind
THE Free State Cheetahs and Blue Bulls have met each other four times in Currie Cup finals in the professional era‚ and they will be hoping their fifth encounter will be as exciting as previous encounters.
The Bulls have won two‚ the Cheetahs one‚ and in 2006 the sides shared the trophy after playing to a draw. If previous encounters are anything to go by we can expect a high-scoring match and lots of tries.
We run the rule over the previous finals between the two sides: 2009: Bulls 36-24 Cheetahs‚ Loftus Versfeld This was the last time the two teams faced off in a Currie Cup final‚ and it was also the last time either side played in the season finale.
The Bulls wrapped up that match in the first half after scoring all three of their tries within the first 40 minutes of the encounter.
Despite a late surge from the visiting Free State side‚ they did not do enough to earn a come-frombehind victory.
2006: Cheetahs 28-28 Bulls‚ Free State Stadium
The two sides failed to get the better of each other in 2006 and had to settle for a share of the spoils after a 28-28 stalemate in Bloemfontein
It was the first time since the 1989 final between Western Province and the Bulls (then known as Northern Transvaal) at Newlands Stadium‚ which ended in a 16-16 draw‚ that the Currie Cup was shared by two teams.
After 80 minutes of play the Bulls and the Cheetahs were tied 25-25 in an evenly contested encounter. It was the first time in the competition’s 127-year history that the teams had to go into extra time to settle the tie. Each side scored just three points in extra time. 2005: Bulls 25-29 Cheetahs‚ Loftus Versfeld The Bulls had finished the pool stages of the competition unbeaten and looked set to be on their way to claiming the title that year.
The Bulls had gone past the Golden Lions in a 3123 victory in the semifinals‚ while the Cheetahs narrowly beat Western Province 11-16 in Cape Town to progress to the final.
The Bulls would have thought they had the trophy in the bag after a try from Akona Ndungane‚ a conversion from Morne Steyn‚ four penalties from Steyn and one from Derick Hougaard‚ as well as a drop-goal from Johan Roets.
However‚ a late surge from the Cheetahs saw Bevin Fortuin and Meyer Bosman dotting down.
On the main stand at Loftus that day was a 14year-old boy who’d painted his face blue and who went home distraught after the Bulls’ defeat.
On Saturday that boy‚ Arno Botha‚ will captain the Bulls in his first Currie Cup final. 2004: Bulls 42-33 Cheetahs‚ Loftus Versfeld This was the first of three consecutive final meetings between the two arch-rivals‚ and it proved to be a high-scoring and electrifying affair. Both sides were star-studded. The Bulls had in their armour current coaches Anton Leonard‚ who was captain‚ and Gary Botha – both of whom will be hoping to assist the Bulls to their first title in seven years.
The Cheetahs were led by Rassie Erasmus‚ with Springboks Naka Drotske and Os du Randt forming an important part of the side which also included future Springboks Juan Smith and Gurthro Steenkamp.
This was the start of a good run by the Bulls under Heyneke Meyer‚ who would go on to win the Super Rugby title with the core of the players who won the 2004 Currie Cup title. — TMG Digital