Bloemfontein - The Free State Cheetahs managed their first victory in this year's Currie Cup competition following a 34-27 win over Griquas at the Free State Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Cheetahs started quickly and progressed into Griquas half from the get go, showing their intent to play running rugby.
The visitors were a little slow out of the blocks but also showed their intent early on once they got their hands on the ball.
Griquas drew first blood in the eighth minute after several attacks led to a good try from captain Wayne Stevens.
Fullback Nico Scheepers converted with ease to give Griquas an early lead of 7-0.
The Cheetahs finally got on the scoreboard in the 18th minute when Elgar Watts kicked a penalty to give the hosts some reward, after their attacks failed to produce a five-pointer.
Watts made use of his kicking boot to keep the hosts down in Griquas' half, but the hosts were solid on defence.
Watts gave his side the lead for the first time in the game with a try in the 24th minute.
Cheetahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius further extended that lead by scoring in the corner after kicking the ball through and running nearly 60 metres.
Watts missed with the conversion, but replacement, Marais Schmidt, kicked a penalty on the hooter for Griquas to make the half-time score 15-10 in favour of the hosts.
Griquas started the second half well, but good defence from the hosts snubbed them of any early points.
The home side, in turn, used all their chances and scored in the 46th minute after winger Rayno Benjamin rounded-off a good off-load by centre Francois Venter.
Again Watts converted to stretch the lead to 12 points for the Cheetahs.
The visitors reduced the deficit shortly thereafter via a try from flanker Marnus Schoeman.
An unconverted try, it still left Griquas seven points adrift. The visitors were left one man short in the 64th minute when prop Steph Roberts was yellow-carded for coming in from the side.
The Cheetahs clinched the victory in the 67th minute when winger Raymond Rhule dotted down after following up a kick through.
Replacement flyhalf, Willie du Plessis, converted to give the hosts a comfortable lead with time running out.
A follow-up try by Rhule, his second of the afternoon, rounded of a superb performance by the hosts.
Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius, Rayno Benjamin, Raymond Rhule (2)
Conversions: Elgar Watts (2), Willie du Plessis
Tries: Wayne Stevens, Marnus Schoeman, Maks van Dyk, Ederies Arendse
Conversions: Nico Scheepers, Marais Schmidt
Free State Cheetahs:
15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Kevin Stevens
Substitutes: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Dolph Botha, 18 Neil Claassen, 19 Waltie Vermeulen, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 JP du Plessis
15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Edries Arendse, 13 PJ Vermeulen, 12 Wayne Stevens (captain), 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 RJ Liebenberg, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Steph Roberts
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Maks Van Dyk, 18 Hugo Kloppers, 19 Burger Schoeman, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Marais Schmidt, 22 Jonathan Francke