The Cheetahs are still in with a shout of Currie Cup semi-final qualification after a comfortable 60-17 victory over the Leopards.
The Cheetahs are still in with a shout of Currie Cup semi-final qualification after a comfortable 60-17 victory over the Leopards on Friday.
It was not the start the home team, needing to win with a bonus point in order to maintain semi-final chances, were looking for.
Within eight minutes, the Cheetahs found themselves trailing 10-0 and were lucky to be there. Deon van Rensburg's try had finally, belatedly rounded off a heavy spell of Leopards superiority as the visitors came chargng out of the blocks. There was only one team in it.
Jean Tiedt backed up his side's territorial advantage with a penalty and the conversion of Van Rensburg's try and the Cheetahs huddled under the posts as Tiedt wound up for the conversion in the bucketing rain looking shell-shocked.
Slowly though, they ground their way back into it, winning the kicking exchanges and bullying out the territory. Jacques-Louis Potgieter's kicking radar from the tee was on song and he pulled back six points from it. David de Villiers was a nuisance at Leopards line-outs. Things evened up.
A huge scrum from the Cheetahs enabled Francois Viljoen to intercept the ball from Tiedt's hands under pressure, with Potgieter taking the ball on into the Leopards' 22, where a succession of penalties and phases saw Potgieter dive over under the posts for the hosts' first try.
Potgieter injured himself in the process, so was replaced by Louis Strydom, while Tewis de Bruyn took over the kicking duties.
That didn't affect the game much, with Corne Uys making the next telling break, WP Nel taking the ball on once more and the impressive number eight Ashley Johnson storming over the line from 15m out. De Bruyn supplied the extras once more. That was it for the half and, in truth, for the game as a contest as well.
From a rolling maul five minutes into the second half, Hendro Scholtz plunged over from the back to record his team's third, leaving them 35 minutes to score the all-important fourth.
It only took them six. Three sweeping atacks stretched the Leopards defence, then Johnson was released down the left. He popped inside to Viljoen, who was tackled but not held, and the openside jumped up to his feet and stretched just enough to make it across for the score. De Bruyn made light work of the toughest conversion yet.
The Cheetahs had, by this point, enjoyed 67 per cent of the match's possession and the attrition was taking its toll on the visitors, who were falling off more and more tackles.
Nel got a deserved try with 20 still to go, then Bosman wriggled through a gap for the sixth, with De Bruyn finally blotting his copybook by missing the sixth conversion.
Jongi Nokwe added the seventh, taking him top of the competition's try-scoring charts and Nico Breedt grabbed one through brute strength.
But there was just time for the visitors to grab a consolation through Danie Dames with three minutes to go.
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Potgieter, Johnson, Scholtz, Viljoen, Nel, Bosman, Nokwe, Breedt
Cons: De Bruyn 5, Strydom
Pens: Potgieter 2
For the Leopards:
Tries: Van Rensburg, Dames
Cons: Tiedt, Jacobs
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 CornÃ© Uys, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Fabian Juries, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Frans Viljoen, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Nico Breedt (c), 3 WP Nel, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.
Replacements: 16 Coenie Oosthuizen, 17 Izak van der Westhuizen, 18 Lucas Floors, 19 JP Joubert, 20 Louis Strydom, 21 JW Jonker, 22 Jongi Nokwe.
Leopards: 15 Danie Dames, 14 Jovan Bowles, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Berndt Theissinger, 11 Shuaib Samaai, 10 Cecil Dumont, 9 Jean Tiedt, 8 Riaan Swanepoel, 7 Bennie Adams, 6 AndrÃ© Swanepoel (c), 5 Edrich Linde, 4 Bradley Mockford, 3 Barend van der Walt, 2 Marthinus van der Westhuizen, 1 Divan Kotze.
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Mark Lawrence