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Pollard stars in Bulls' victory

Handre Pollard fired the Bulls to an impressive 39-20 win over Cheetahs with a scintillating individual display at Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein.

The 20-year-old South African fly-half completed a full house by notching a try, three conversions, five penalties and a drop goal on his way to an all-encompassing 29-point haul.

Bjorn Basson and Jan Serfontein also crossed over for Bulls, but it was Pollard's efforts that kickstarted their stuttering Super Rugby campaign.

Cheetahs, who were 23-6 down at half time, cut the gap to 26-20 at one point thanks to tries from Raymond Rhule and Boom Prinsloo, while Joe Pietersen kicked over 10 points, but fittingly Pollard had the final say.

Cheetahs came flying out of the blocks and the early pressure told when Bulls flanker Deon Stegmann was pinged for hands in a ruck and Pietersen duly split the posts.

But things started to unravel for the hosts when Rhule was sin binned for a dangerous tackle on Bulls full back Jesse Kriel in the air in the seventh minute.

That was the catalyst for the Bulls, searching for only their second win of the season, to post 13 unanswered points to go 13-3 in front after 28 minutes.

Pollard was the chief orchestrator, with a fine show and go to finish off an 11-phase move and score the opening try after 18 minutes. The nine-cap Springbok added the conversion and another two penalties to put the visitors in control.

Pietersen briefly reduced the arrears with a second penalty on the half hour, but Bulls hooker Adriaan Strauss bust through the middle and fed wing Basson to go over in the corner minutes later.

Unsurprisingly Pollard added the conversion and his metronomic boot nudged the Bulls further in front with a third penalty of the afternoon to make it 23-6 at the interval.

Rhule made up for his first-half yellow card by weaving his way through Bulls' defence to dot down just after the break, while Boom Prinsloo added a second try to give Cheetahs a perfect response.

Pietersen converted both, after Pollard slotted another penalty before the mini spree, and it was back to 26-20 midway through the second half.

Thoughts of a stirring comeback were dealt a blow with another penalty and a routine drop goal from Pollard, before Serfontein powered over with nine minutes remaining.

Pollard added the extras to complete his impressive tally and seal the win.

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