Free State Cheetahs got their Currie Cup campaign off to a strong start on Saturday as they overcame the Leopards 40-12 in Bloemfontein.
The Leopards, aiming for a top six finish in the competition, got off to a poor start after escaping the relegation play-offs last season.
They did put up some resistance with two tries, but the Cheetahs, semi-finalists last year, ran rampant as they went over six times in a convincing win.
Prop WP Nel got the hosts off to a solid start with a third minute try, and they never looked back.
Former Bulls and Pumas wing Vainon Willis dotted down for the Leopards in the 29th minute, but the Leopards were never really in with a shout.
The home side held a 35-5 advantage at half-time, and while neither team managed to add much more in the second stanza, the Cheetahs held on for a convincing win.
Five Cheetahs players - Nel, Andries Strauss, Rayno Benjamin, Corne Uys and Philip Burger - stormed over in the first half to give the hosts a clear-cut advantage heading into the break.
Prop BG Uys barged over for the visitors in the 67th minute, securing the first points for either team in the second half, with fly-half Clayton Durand converting.
Cheetahs substitute Philip Snyman, however, dotted down with four minutes remaining in the match to secure the victory.
For Free State:
Tries: Nel, Strauss, Benjamin, Uys, Burger, Snyman
Con: Ebersohn 2, Smit 3
Tries: Willis, Uys
Free State: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Corné Uys, 12 Andries Strauss (c), 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Pieter Labuschagné, 6 Johan Wessels, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Michael van Vuuren, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 PW van Vuuren, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Pieter Myburgh, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Philip Burger.
Leopards: 15 George Tossel, 14 Danie Dames, 13 Joubert Engelbrecht, 12 Charl Weideman, 11 Wynand Willis, 10 Clayton Durand (C), 9 Whestley Moolman, 8 Morne Hanekom, 7 MB Lusaseni, 6 Renaldo Bothma, 5 Roan van Heerden, 4 Brendon Snyman, 3 Stephan Bezuidenhout, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 BG Uys.
Replacements: 16 Stofel Duvenhage, 17 Berend Botha, 18 Thabo Mamojele, 19 Christo van Niekerk, 20 Theo van Wyk, 21 Walter Venter, 22 Hoffmann Maritz.
Referee: Jason Jafta