The Free State Cheetahs host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein on Saturday and they require just a bonus to make the semifinals and more than likely end the Blue Bulls season.
The Cheetahs overcame a sluggish first half to beat the Griquas 52-21 in Kimberley last weekend and the bonus point they gained is crucial in that it puts them 5 points ahead of the Blue Bulls with a superior points difference of 22. The Cheetahs are on 22 log points with the Lions on 21 points and the Bulls on 17.
It can probably be assumed that the Lions will beat Griquas in the early match and that means the Blue Bulls will need to score a 4 try bonus point while preventing the Cheetahs from doing so, and they would also have to win the match by 12 points or more.
The Cheetahs have had pretty close encounters in their last 2 home matches, they lost to WP by 2 points a fortnight ago and prior to that edged the Lions by 3 points.
The young Blue Bulls side has fought hard. They have at times looked capable of mixing it at the business end but the big home defeat to the Lions and the failure to beat 14 man WP have ultimately come back to haunt them. They beat Griquas 52-10 in their last away match but went down by 9 points to the Lions at Ellis Park the previous week.
Head to Head
The Blue Bulls started slight underdogs against the Cheetahs in Pretoria but turned in perhaps their best display of the season to win by 16 points.
2013: Bulls 26 Cheetahs 10
2012: Bulls 34 Cheetahs 30
2012: Cheetahs 32 Bulls 18
2011: Cheetahs 22 Bulls 22
2011: Bulls 33 Cheetahs 30
2010: Cheetahs 20 Bulls 14
2010: Bulls 23 Cheetahs 25
There are some similarities with the Springbok v All Blacks test in that at least one of the sides is likely to be chasing the 4 tries. While the Blue Bulls need for the bonus point is pretty much a given (unless the Lions finish pointless against the Griquas) the chances are that the Cheetahs will be chasing one to overtake the Lions and finish 3rd on the log.
An entertaining game should be on the cards and the Blue Bulls simply have to roll the dice if they wish to extend their season. I am expecting them to get the 4 tries and perhaps even to win the game but I think the Cheetahs will find a way of securing the bonus point they need, most likely by scoring 4 tries themselves.
At the time of writing it wasn’t clear which of the returning Boks would be available for the sides.
Prediction: The Bulls to win a high scoring game by between 1 and 10 points and if you enjoy a bet then backing a high scoring encounter could lead to profits.