Johannesburg - The Free State XV powered their way to a superb 31-3 victory (half-time 10-3) over the Eastern Province Kings in their Vodacom Cup rugby match at the Cradock Rovers Field in Cradock on Saturday.
The visitors enhanced their chances of making the play-offs as they ran in four unanswered tries in a match played in sweltering Karoo conditions.
The bonus-point victory propelled Free State from fourth position into second on the South Section log, only two points behind the unbeaten Sharks XV who have 17 points from their four matches.
Free State's intentions were made clear from the start and besides an opening penalty slotted by flyhalf Neil Marais they opted for field position when penalties presented themselves.
They were rewarded for their strategy as centre Nico Lee scored their opening try which was converted by Marais.
Kings flyhalf George Whitehead also slotted a penalty to complete the scoring.
Free State flank Oupa Mohoje scored his try after the break and double scores from replacement prop Alvin Brandt secured the bonus point. All three were converted by Marais.
The Kings now face an uphill battle in their pursuit of the quarter-finals having registered only one win in their opening four matches. They find themselves six points adrift of the play-off spots.
EP Kings: Penalty: George Whitehead.
Free State XV: Tries: Nico Lee, Oupa Mohoje, Alvin Brandt (2); Conversions: Neil Marais (4); Penalties: Neil Marais.