The Toyota Free State Cheetahs made a big statement on Friday evening by beating Western Province 32-25 in Cape Town to remain unbeaten in the Currie Cup after three rounds.
Great work in the line-outs and at scrum-time saw the Free State enjoying the upper hand for the majority of the match, after Province got off to a good start.
Franco Smith’s side fought back from 10-0 down following a penalty by Brandon Thomson and converted try by Huw Jones to run out victors at Newlands.
Two penalties by Fred Zeilinga and a converted try by Nico Lee in the 22nd minute saw the Free Staters take the lead briefly, however another penalty by Thomson and a Kobus van Wyk try saw the home side lead by 18-13 at the half time break.
The 10 minute period after the break proved to be crucial for the visitors with the captain, Tian Meyer, crashing over for a try after collecting a good offload by Lee.
A 65th minute try by the winger Leolin Zas but Province back in striking distance with the Cheetahs enjoying a one point lead, however the flyhalf Fred Zeilinga kept the scoreboard ticking with penalties from all corners of the park for perfect kicking display by the pivot.
Zeilinga slotted six penalties and two conversions for a personal contribution of 22 points to win the game for the Cheetahs and in the process he also won the man of the match award.
The Cheetahs go into next week’s bye lying comfortably in second on the log, one point shy of the Sharks who beat the Boland Cavaliers 41-20 in Wellington earlier in the day for their third successive bonus point win, albeit against the Pumas and Griquas, who along with Boland had to qualify for the premier division.
For Western Province it’s back to the drawing board with two losses in their two outings after losing 45-26 to the Blue Bulls a fortnight ago.
Western Province: Tries – Huw Jones, Kobus van Wyk, Leolin Zas Conv. – Brandon Thomson, Robert du Preez Pen. – Thomson 2.
Toyota FS Cheetahs: Tries – Nico Lee, Tian Meyer Conv. – Fred Zeilinga 2 Pen. – Zeilinga 6. – MORGAN PIEK