George - The Free State XV relied heavily on the boot of flyhalf Tewis de Bruyn on their way to a 31-8 (half-time 16-5) win over the SWD Eagles 31-8 in their Vodacom Cup match at Outeniqua Park in George on Friday.
De Bruyn succeeded with four penalties and two conversions for a personal tally of 16 points while the visitors managed three tries through lock Neil Claassen and wings Eddie Fredericks and Ludwig Erasmus.
The home team managed just a single try, through tighthead prop Grant Kemp, while fullback Elric van Vuuren succeeded with a second-half penalty.
The hosts made the early running in the match and Kemp opened the scoring after just four minutes with his try, but the host's lead was short lived as the Free State XV struck back five minutes later through a converted try from Claassen.
De Bruyn then nailed three penalties as the Free State XV went to the break holding a handy 16-5 lead.
The second half belonged almost exclusively to the visitors but they only really broke free of their tenacious opponents in the last quarter.
De Bruyn succeeded with a 47th minute penalty but the men from Bloemfontein had to wait until the 61st minute before they managed to breach the Eagles' defence again when former SA Sevens' star Fredericks zipped over for an unconverted try.
De Bruyn popped another penalty over and, two minutes before the end, the Free State XV grabbed their third try when left wing Erasmus, who played for Pukke in last year's Varsity Cup, dotted down for a converted try.
Try: Grant Kemp
Penalty: Elric van Vuuren
Free State XV:
Tries: Neil Claassen, Eddie Fredericks, Ludwig Erasmus
Conversions: Tewis de Bruyn (2)
Penalties: De Bruyn (4)