The Free State Cheetahs' recent resurgence continued when they beat Western Province 28-21 in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The victory was sweet revenge for the Cheetahs, who lost narrowly to the champions in Cape Town two weeks ago, and they outscored WP by three tries to two.
The Cheetahs' high-paced game laid the foundation to this win and they raced into a 25-3 lead inside the opening half-hour but, to their credit, WP fought back although they would never hold the lead in what was an entertaining encounter.
Province will have to do some introspection as they missed several tackles, conceded too many turnovers and committed numerous unforced errors especially during the opening half.
The game started brightly for the home side when Niell Jordaan scored their first try shortly after the kick-off. This after he charged down an attempted clearance by Demetri Catrakilis outside WP's 22. And after booting the ball ahead, Jordaan only had to dive on it when it rolled over the visitors' try-line.
Fred Zeilinga missed with his conversion attempt but he made it 8-0 shortly afterwards when he slotted a penalty after WP were penalised for illegal play at a ruck.
Catrakilis added a penalty of his own shortly afterwards, but the Cheetahs then got their second try when, after launching a drive from a line-out inside WP's 22, Shaun Venter made a break around the fringe of the maul and shrugged off a challenge from Sikhumbuzo Notshe before scoring under the posts.
Zeilinga added the conversion and another penalty before the Cheetahs scored their third try in the 26th minute. This after Raymond Rhule pounced on a loose ball close to the halfway line and set off towards the whitewash. But when the cover defence closed in, he broke infield and offloaded to Benjamin who burst through three tackles before crossing.
WP bounced back with tries from Seabelo Senatla and Rynardt Elstadt before the break and with the score at 25-15 at half-time they were still in the game.
The second-half was a more subdued affair, and WP narrowed the gap to four points by the hour mark after successive penalties from Kurt Coleman.
Although the Cheetahs chased hard for a bonus point they couldn't afford to let the visitors in via the back door. And when Jaco Taute used his hands in a ruck, close to his try-line, Sias Ebersohn sealed his side's win with a penalty in the 72nd minute.
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Jordaan, S Venter, Benjamin
Cons: Zeilinga 2
Pens: Zeilinga 2
For Western Province:
Tries: Senatla, Elstadt
Pens: Coleman 2, Catrakilis
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.
Replacements: 16 Elandre 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.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JP Smith, 18 Jan de Klerk, 19 Chris Cloete, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Dillyn Leyds.
Referee: Stuart Berry