Johannesburg – It was a running affair in Heidedal, outside of Bloemfontein, where 99 points were scored in the Vodacom Cup clash between Free State and SWD Eagles.
Free State won 52-47 in a match that produced 12 tries.
The first half was played in blustery conditions which resulted in a number of mistakes.
The quality of the performances, however, improved in the second half when the wind dropped.
The Free Staters already secured the bonus point in the 30th minute when Don Mlondobozi dotted down when a lucky bounce of the ball popped up into his hands.
At 10-29 down, the visitors bounced back and quickly closed the deficit to 22-32 with a try by the giant Eagles lock Mzwanele Zito from a dominant lineout drive.
Seconds before the break, the Eagles looked to be in at the right-wing corner, but a dangerous and high tackle by Sino Ganto cost him ten minutes in the sin-bin and resulted in a penalty-try for the men from the Southern Cape.
Leading 42-27 midway through the second half, the victory looked to be secure, but once more the Eagles wrestled their way back to within seven points and again to 44-49 before the Free State captain, Niel Marais produced the final blow with a long distance penalty kick for a personal tally of 15 points.
The Eagles did earn a second bonus point right towards the end for losing within seven points.
Scorers: Free State (52): Tries: Henco Greyling, Riaan Smit, Sino Ganto, Don Mlondobozi, Nico Lee, Niel Marais. Conversions:
Riaan Smit (3), Niel Marais (2). Penalties: Smit (2), Niel Marais (2).
SWD Eagles (47): Tries: Mzwanele Zito (2), Mzo Dyantyi, Hentzwill Pedro (2), penalty try. Conversions: Karlo Aspeling (4). Penalties: Karlo Aspeling (2). Drop Goal: Karlo Aspeling. – Sapa