Cheetahs and Blue Bulls draw 28-28 in Currie Cup rugby final

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

The 2006 Currie Cup domestic rugby union final ended in a draw, with the Free State Cheetahs and Blue Bulls drawing 28-all after 20 minutes of extra-time at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein. The last time a Currie Cup final ended in a draw was in the 1989 season. The game was played in front of a packed Vodacom Park, with all tickets being sold out on the first day.

The final was the first in Bloemfontein since the 1994 season at Springbok Park, where Transvaal defeated the Free State team. The 2006 final is the third in succession which features both the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs, with the teams being the finalists since the 2004 season. The Blue Bulls won the 2004 final at Loftus Versfeld, and then in 2005 the Cheetahs defeated them at Loftus in the final. The 2006 season kicked off in June, with the regular season finishing after 14 rounds in late September. The Cheetahs finished in first place on the season table, with the Blue Bulls behind them in second place. The Blue Bulls defeated Western Province in the semi finals, with the Cheetahs defeating the Sharks to win theirs to set up the final.

The scoring opened up in the third minute with a penalty kick to the Cheetahs through Willem de Waal. Successful with the kick, the Cheetahs opened up a three point lead over the Bulls. Phillip Burger scored for the Cheetahs, and JP Nel scored his side's first try of the match, three minutes before halftime. However the conversion attempt was wide. The Cheetahs entered the halftime break leading the Bulls 14 points to eight.

Four minutes into the second half the Blue Bulls scored their second try, with Marius Delport gathering up a kick to score. Morné Steyn kicked the conversion, taking the score to 15 to 14, making it the first time in the match that the Blue Bulls were leading. The Cheetahs took back the lead in the 49th minute, with another penalty kick to take them to 17-15. A long range kick from the Blue Bulls put them back in front in the 55th minute, to lead by one point, 18-17. The Cheetahs hit back through Kabamba Floors, scoring a try minutes later. The Cheetahs extended their lead in the 60th minute with another penalty kick. With three minutes remaining, Nel scored his second try and Steyn kicked the conversion to draw the Blue Bulls level 25-all with around two minutes left in the match.

After 80 minutes the game was taken into extra time after a short break in play. The Blue Bulls were awarded a penalty after three minutes of extra time and Steyn kicked it successfully to take the Blue Bulls to 28-25. The Cheetahs came close to equalising in the seveth minute of extra time with a penalty kick, but the ball hit the upright and bounced away. Meyer Bosman kicked a penalty for the Cheetahs in the 14th minute of extra play, drawing the scores equal at 28-all. The game ended soon after, ending in a draw.

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