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Bulls battle past Cheetahs

The Bulls recovered from a nine-point half-time deficit to defeat South African rivals the Cheetahs and end a five-match winless run.

The three-time former Super Rugby champions had lost four away games since being held by the Chiefs in their last outing in Pretoria, and they looked set for more disappointment on Saturday as the struggling Cheetahs opened up an 18-9 lead at the interval.

However, the Bulls fought back in the second half and tries from forwards Paul Willemse and Callie Visagie helped them claim a much-welcomed 26-21 win that leaves them 10th in the standings.

The home side drew first blood at Loftus Versfeld through Handre Pollard's sixth-minute penalty but the Cheetahs - who slumped to the bottom of the standings following the Stormers' win earlier on Saturday - responded with 13 points in as many minutes.

Elgar Watts fired over two penalties either side of converting Johann Sadie's long-range try, which came after the centre had intercepted a long pass from 20-year-old fly-half Pollard.

To compound Pollard's misery, he was sin-binned soon after for not retreating 10 metres, conceding the penalty which Watts slotted over to make it 13-3.

Despite being a man down though, the Bulls pulled three points back through Jurgen Visser's effort, and then just before the break Pollard returned to add another three-pointer to make it 13-9.

It was the Cheetahs who finished the half on top however, with Raymond Rhule finishing off a good move for a try that gave his side their nine-point lead at the break.

The second half proved a different story though, with the Bulls outscoring their rivals 17-3 in the period to claim the spoils and deny the Cheetahs a first victory at Loftus Versfeld.

Converted tries from lock Willemse and hooker Visagie either side of a Johan Goosen penalty for the Cheetahs saw the Bulls reclaim the lead at 23-21 with just over 20 minutes to go, and the only addition to the score after that was a Jacques-Louis Potgieter penalty for the hosts.

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