Johannesburg - The Cheetahs clawed their way back in their Currie Cup encounter against the Lions to secure a 26-35 win and extend their winning run.
It was the unbeaten side’s second-half display that helped them to victory over the struggling Lions, who have now slumped to their ninth loss in the competition.
The Lions opened the scoring when Stean Pienaar cut through the Cheetahs defence to run in the opener. Tiaan Swanepoel made quick work of the straightforward, under-the-uprights conversion to add the extras and take the score to 7-0.
Fifteen minutes in, Swanepoel stretched the hosts’ early lead with a penalty conversion (10-0).
The Lions extended their points advantage to 13-0 early in the second quarter when Swanepoel shot a massive one through the posts again, and a few minutes later, the Cheetahs got over the line by Gideon van der Merwe. Veteran Ruan Pienaar made it a full-point try with his conversion to take it to 13-7 at the 26th minute.
The visitors struck again after 10 minutes with a converted score by Marnus van der Merwe (13-14) to give the Free State team the lead for the first time in the fixture.
At the break, right in the hooter, the Johannesburg side made it 20-14 with a score by Lindo Nchsane, and they had the first say in the second 40 as well when Swanepoel took it to 23-14 in the 46th minute.
The Cheetahs responded with a penalty (23-17), but Swanepoel ensured that the lead remained with the hosts when he connected another one (26-17).
After a converted Duncan Saal try (26-24), the Cheetahs went ahead with another penalty at (27-26), which sparked the team who is all about turning a game around in the second half.
The visitors sealed the deal when replacement hooker Louis van der Westhuizen scored a converted try from a rolling maul to give the Cheetahs a 32-26 lead with just four minutes remaining, and another Pienaar penalty secured the Cheetahs a 35-26 victory.
Lions 26 (20) - Tries: Stean Pienaar, Lindo Ncusane Conversions: Tiaan Swanepoel (2) Penalties: Tiaan Swanepoel (4)
Cheetahs 35 (20) - Tries: Gideon van der Merwe, Marnus van der Merwe, Duncan Saal, Louis van der Westhuizen Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (3) Penalties: Ruan Pienaar (3)