The Toyota Free State Cheetahs were crowned as the Currie Cup champions for the sixth time on Saturday evening following a 31-28 win over the Golden Lions in Bloemfontein.
An outstanding first-half performance by the Cheetahs in front of a near-capacity crowd simply blew the Lions off of the park, and despite a late surge by the visitors did not have enough to beat the hosts.
The hooker, Joseph Dweba, opened the scoring at the Toyota Stadium when he crashed over in the corner from a lineout drive. The seasoned Ruan Pienaar made no mistake in adding the extra two points from the touchline.
The Lions struck back almost immediately when Wandisile Simelane strolled over under the posts for level matters.
A few minutes later, Pienaar, regained the lead with a penalty. From there on out it was almost one-way traffic for the Cheetahs.
The winger, William Small-Smith, flew over in the right corner for the Cheetahs second try after showing a clear pair of heals in the 26th minute.
Just four minutes later, Clayton Blommetjies, sold a neat dummy to good over for the Cheetahs third try.
On the stroke of half time, the Cheetahs scored another try from the penalty. This time it was the lock Walt Steenkamp who got up with the ball for the solid lineout drive. This saw the Cheetahs leading the match 31-7 at the interval.
The replacement flank, Japser Wiese, went over in the 41st minute, however, the try was disallowed because of a knock-on.
The scoring in the second of the game was opened with just nine minutes left on the clock when the replacement scrumhalf Dillon Smith sold a dummy and darted over for the Lions second try. A brace by the replacement James Venter nearly saw the Lions claw their way to a victory but ultimately it was too little, too late.
Free State Cheetahs: Tries – Joseph Dweba, William Small-Smith, Clayton Blommetjies, Walt Steenkamp Conv. – Ruan Pienaar 4 Pen. – Pienaar 1
Golden Lions: Tries – Wandisile Simelane, Dillon Smit, James Venter 2 Conv. – Shaun Reynolds 4 – MORGAN PIEK