cheetahs have edge

Meshack Khotha

Meshack Khotha

THE Free State Cheetahs stand a chance of going one up on Gauteng rivals the Blue Bulls when the two meet in the final of the Absa Currie Cup in two weeks' time after both teams advanced from the semi-finals at the weekend.

In previous finals the Cheetahs lost 42-33 to the Bulls in Pretoria in 2005 and made amends the following year with a well-deserved 29-25 victory over the Gautengers in Bloemfontein.

The local rugby giants shared the spoils in 2007 when they played to a hard-fought 28-28 draw in Free State.

But based on current form the Cheetahs should pull ahead of the Super 14 champion Bulls in the trophy count when they cross swords in the 2009 Absa Currie Cup final at Loftus on October 31.

The Cheetahs set up their fourth final with their traditional rivals after upsetting a star-studded Sharks side 23-21 in the first semifinal in Durban on Saturday.

In the second semifinal at Newlands Stadium the Bulls narrowly beat Western Province 21-19.

Defending champions the Sharks were hot favourites for a second successive final.

After trailing 15-3 at the break, coach Naka Drotske's Cheetahs came out for the second half with all guns blazing. They dominated the forward exchanges and outscored the hosts by 20 points to six in the second stanza.

Flyhalf Jacques Louis-Potgieter stood out for the Cheetahs and landed 18 points, including a try and the winning drop goal, while prop WP Nel also added a try.

Bulls goal-kicking machine Morne Steyn almost single-handedly left the Capetonians heartbroken by landing all seven of his team's penalties.