BLOEMFONTEIN – The Cheetahs had to dig deep on Saturday before beating the Southern Kings 40-36 in a Pro14 rugby derby at Toyota Stadium.
The Port Elizabeth-based Kings opened the scoring when fullback Masixole Banda slotted home a penalty (3-0).
It did not take long for the Cheetahs to force their dominance and three tries were scored by the home side before the Kings could answer.
Scrumhalf Shaun Venter scored the first five-pointer, before flyhalf Tian Schoeman added another. Schoeman converted both tries (14-3). The Cheetahs continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded with yet another try, this time from rightwing William Small-Smith (19-3).
The Kings had centre Meli Rokoua yellow-carded in the first half.
The momentum then shifted just before halftime after the Cheetahs had two players, hooker Joe Dweba and Small-Smith, sent to the cooler.
Flanker CJ Velleman scored the first try for the Kings and Banda converted (19-10) before halftime.
In the second half the dangerous leftwing Yaw Penxe forced his way over to bring the Kings even closer (19-15). The Cheetahs hit back when fullback Malcolm Jaer and flanker Junior Pokomela both scored. Both tries were converted by Schoeman (33-15).
For a moment things fell apart for the visitors when flanker Schalk Brits was red-carded for dangerous play. The Cheetahs followed this up with a great try by replacement-hooker Reinach Venter. Schoeman was on target with the conversion (40-15).
The Kings fought hard with 14 men and were rewarded with three tries late in the match by flanker Tienie Burger, replacement-hooker Alandre van Rooyen and replacement-centre Berton Klassen. Banda converted all three tries (40-36).
Scorers: Cheetahs 40 (19): Tries: Shaun Venter, Tian Schoeman, William Small-Smith, Malcolm Jaer, Junior Pokomela, Reinach Venter. Conversions: Schoeman (5).
Southern Kings 36 (10): Tries: CJ Velleman, Yaw Penxe, Tienie Burger, Alandre van Rooyen, Berton Klassen. Conversion: Masixole Banda (4). Penalty: Banda.
African News Agency (ANA)