A flawless goal-kicking performance from Cheetahs flyhalf Sias Ebersohn sealed a tense 28-22 victory over Western Province who had led for much of the game in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
A strong second-half performance from the home side ensured that they got back to winning ways, but they were made to work hard by a determined Western Province side.
Electric young Western Province outside centre Johann Sadie got over for the only try of the first half after some great counter attacking play from outside backs Danie Poolman and Conrad Jantjes put him in some space.
Sadie turned on the pace and outstripped the cover defence to score in the corner. The accurate boot of flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis stretched the lead out to 13-0 but the home side clawed their way back into the contest through their own impressive goal-kicker - Ebersohn.
The Cheetahs flyhalf's fifth succesful penalty kick made the score 15-16 to the visitors with half an hour remaining and it was anyone's game at that stage.
The home team hit the lead for the first time in the game in the 65th minute when Western Province flank Rohan Kitshoff played the ball on the ground in front of the poles and Ebersohn happily slotted his sixth goal-kick to make it 18-16 to the Cheetahs.
Western Province replacement lock Adriaan Fondse was sent to the sin bin after being involved in a scuffle off the ball with Springbok flank Heinrich Brüssow who had secured a trademark turnover for his team.
The killer blow was struck in the 74th minute when Western Province tighthead prop Brok Harris threw an intercept pass in the midfield which Cheetahs centre Corne Uys was only too happy to accept, and he cantered over for one of the easier tries he will ever score. Ebersohn's conversion made it 28-19 to the home side.
Another penalty from the boot of Catrakilis secured the losing bonus point for Western Province but that is all they would get as the Cheetahs held on to secure the comeback victory.
For the Free State Cheetahs:
Cons: S. Ebersohn
Pens: S. Ebersohn 7
For Western Province:
Pens: Catrakilis 5
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johan Wessels, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Herkie Liebenberg, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Heinrich Brüssow, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Corné Uys, 22 Philip Burger.
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg (captain), 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Adriaan Fondse, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Marcel Brache.
Referee: Sindile Mayende
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