The Cheetahs outscored the EP Kings four tries to three to win 37-22 in Saturday's Currie Cup clash at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Free State Cheetahs outscored the EP Kings four tries to three to win 37-22 in Saturday's Currie Cup clash at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Despite being outmuscled up front at times, the Cheetahs showed enough class to register a deserved win.
The match was evenly poised at half-time when the Cheetahs led 16-10, but they made excellent use of their attacking opportunities in the second half to score three more tries after the break, always keeping daylight between themselves and their opponents.
Any mistakes and defensive lapses by the Kings were swiftly seized on by the Cheetahs as scrum-half Sarel Pretorius, celebrating his 100th Currie Cup game, fly-half Willie du Plessis and wing Raymond Rhule all crossed for tries to make the game safe at 37-15 with seven minutes remaining.
The Kings showed great endeavour to cross for their third try in the 78th minute when replacement centre Dwayne Jenner finished off a series of attacks with a try next to the posts.
The game ended with EP again on the attack, but it was too little, too late as they again paid the penalty for committing errors at crucial times.
The Kings showed their commitment, however, playing the match with 14 men for 20 minutes after hooker Martin Ferreira and lock Darron Nell were both shown yellow cards.
The Cheetahs, leading 13-10 when Ferreira went to the bin, could not capitalise fully on his absence despite having a five-metre line-out. When their drive was held up, they had a five-metre scrum but the Kings then pushed them off the ball to earn a penalty, eliminating the immediate danger.
However, with Du Plessis showing accurate kicking form, the Cheetahs always had the edge and the fly-half added three penalties and three conversions to his try for a personal contribution of 20 points.
Their opening try came from centre Francois Venter, engineered by Pretorius and Rhule, and Du Plessis added the conversion and three penalties for their first half points.
Down 13-3, the Kings struck back with a magnificent try by wing Ntabeni Dukisa when he made the most of quick distribution down the left flank and put in a solo run from about 50 metres, bamboozling the visiting defence to score under the poles.
The home side produced another fine try by Siyanda Grey in the second half, but the Cheetahs' lethal strikes nearly every time they visited the Kings' 22-metre area proved the difference in the end.
For EP Kings:
Tries: Dukisa, Grey, Jenner
Cons: Van Aswegen, Van Breda
Pens: Van Aswegen
Yellow cards: Ferreira, Nell
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Venter, Pretorius, du Plessis, Rhule
Cons: Du Plessis 3, de Wet
Pens: Du Plessis 3
Eastern Province Kings: 15 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Devin Oosthuizen, 6 Shaun McDonald, 5 Darron Nell, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Albe de Swardt, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Steven Cummins, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Tobie Botes, 21 Dwayne Jenner, 22 Scott van Breda.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Phillipus du Plessis, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Pieter Labuschagne, 7 Neil Claassen, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Henco Venter, 3 George Marich, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Abraham le Roux, 17 Dolph Botha, 18 Brendon Groenewald, 19 Vincent Jobo, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 22 Adriaan Coertzen.
Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistant referees:Jaco Pretorius, Fernando Uithaler