The Free State Cheetahs beat Griquas for the second time in the 2010 Currie Cup, claiming a well-deserved 33-28 win in Kimberley on Friday.
Solid defence by the visitors late in the match earned them their victory, and now the Griquas have a mountain to climb to reach the semi-finals.
The Cheetahs did not play well in the first half but looked like a totally different team after the halftime break with quality rugby and impressive defence.
The first real exciting play of the match was when Griquas winger Rocco Jansen ran around his opposite number Jongi Nokwe.
The home side then piled on the pressure and received a penalty which fly-half Naas Olivier successfully nailed for a 6-0 lead. Earlier he kicked his first from 42m out.
Griquas again went on the run after a Free State handling error and with clean service from scrum-half Sarel Pretorius, Olivier kicked a good 50m drop-goal for a 9-0 lead.
Free State however bounced back with number eight Ashley Johnson diving over next to the uprights.
From an attacking scrum, Cheetahs full-back Hennie Daniller come close before Johnson grabbed his chance. Louis Strydom converted to reduce the deficit to 7-9 on the stroke of the first quarter. He later added a penalty to put Free State in front - a lead they did not concede for the remainder of the game.
With Griquas strong on attack in the Cheetahs' half, Pretorius knocked on from where Daniller counter-attacked. Johnson picked up and sent Nokwe away for a great score.
The Springbok speedster had a lot to do and got past three defenders for a try that silenced the crowd, who only seconds earlier were hoping for a Griquas' score. Strydom's conversion earned his team a 17-9 lead at the break.
Where the first 40 minutes produced little action, the second half was action-packed.
Two Strydom penalties stretched Free State's lead to 23-9 before Olivier pulled five back with a try eight minutes into the second stanza. Riaan Viljoen could not add the extra two but Griquas were back in the game for two minutes before Nokwe scored his second try from a nice inside pass from Meyer Bosman.
With Strydom's conversion it seemed if the match was out of Griquas' grasp. But the hosts fought back with a try by lock Cecil Kemp which Olivier converted (33-21 to Free State).
Griquas had all the possession in the last 10 minutes and had several chances to score, but the Cheetahs defended brilliantly and kept the Griquas out until two minutes before the end when number eight Burger Schoeman finally dotted down.
It was too late,however, as Griquas ran out of time to get onto the scoreboard again.
Tries: Olivier, Kemp, Schoeman
Cons: Olivier 2
Pens: Olivier 2
Tries: Johnson, Nokwe 2
Cons: Strydom 3
Pens: Strydom 3, Bosman
Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Rocco Jansen, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Naas Olivier (c), 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Burger Schoeman, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 Cecil Kemp, 4 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 3 Jean Botha, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Johan van Deventer, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Richard Lawson/Jean Stemmet, 22 Rudi Vogt.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Philip Snyman, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Louis Strydom, 9 Tewis De Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Philip Van Der Walt, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Skipper Badenhorst, 17 WP Nel, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Tertius Carse, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Riaan Smit.
Referee: Sindile Mayende