The Free State Cheetahs beat Western Province 28-21 in Bloemfontein, having led 25-3 during the first half. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
It was Province's second consecutive loss, while the Cheetahs recorded back-to-back wins.
The visitors pushed hard for a match-levelling try but Seabelo Senatla put a foot in touch late on, and when the Cheetahs won a penalty after the hooter, they booted the ball into touch.
Free State made a strong start to the match when Demetri Catrakilis's clearance kicked was charged down and Nielll Jordaan regathered the ball to score. Fred Zeilinga was off target with the conversion, but slotted a penalty and then missed one.
Catrakilis got Province on the board with a penalty, but the Cheetahs hit back with their second try when Shaun Venter broke away from a lineout driving maul. Zeilinga kicked the conversion and added a penalty to make it 18-3 after 20 minutes.
Things then went from bad to worse for Province when Jaco Taute lost the ball in contact just outside the Cheetahs 22. Rayno Benjamin popped the ball up to Raymond Rhule, who burst away down the left touchline before giving the try-scoring pass back to Benjamin.
Province finally stopped the rot when they attacked the blindside from a scrum and Senatla dotted down. And they struck again three minutes before the break when Alistair Vermaak put Rynhardt Elstadt away from a lineout to reduce the gap to 10.
Kurt Coleman, on for Catrakilis, then kicked two penalties to make it 25-21 with 20 minutes to go, but Sias Ebersohn, on for Zeilinga, slotted a 72-minute penalty, and that proved to be enough to secure the win.
Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Niell Jordaan, Shaun Venter, Rayno Benjamin. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2). Penalties: Zeilinga (2), Zeilinga.
Western Province – Tries: Seabelo Senatla, Rynhardt Elstadt. Conversion: Demetri Catrakilis. Penalties: Catrakilis, Kurt Coleman (2).
Free State Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit, 1 BG Uys.
Subs: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Freddy Ngoza, 20 Ruan van Rensburg, 21 Tertius Kruger, 22 Sias Ebersohn.
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Nizaam Carr (c), 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JP Smith, 18 Jan de Klerk, 19 Chris Cloete, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Dillyn Leyds.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images