Johannesburg - The Golden Lions secured a home Currie Cup semi-final berth with a convincing 47-7 (half-time 22-0) victory over the Free State Cheetahs at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The hosts completely overshadowed the Cheetahs to bring the visitors' 2014 Currie Cup campaign to an end in their final round-robin match of the season.
The Lions turned in another exciting performance as they scored three tries on either side of the break.
The hosts played with width and bamboozled the Cheetahs defence with enterprising backline play.
Going into the match the hosts needed a victory to deny the Sharks, who had been snapping at their heels on the log, a home semi-final.
Any doubt that a semi-final would be hosted at Ellis Park was removed by the half-hour mark with the Lions taking a 22-0 lead.
The Lions made their intent clear from the start when they opted for an attacking lineout to set up a maul instead of going for a penalty conversion six minutes into the match.
At the back of the advancing maul flank Jaco Kriel made the touchdown with flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff converting for the seven-point lead.
Four minutes later it was openside flank Derick Minnie's turn to get in on the action as he showed some superb skills for his five-pointer.
Wing Ruan Combrinck made the initial breakthrough on the right-hand side where gave a short pass to Minnie, who stepped to his outside and back in to beat his man to score.
The Cheetahs had a few opportunities to close the gap but unforced errors stifled their momentum and to further complicate matters, Springbok flank Teboho Mohoje copped a yellow card in the 21st minute.
Boshoff extended the Lions' lead through a penalty conversion before the Johannesburg side added their third try in the 29th minute.
Their third came courtesy of Combrinck, who sold a dummy to his inside before he made a beeline for the line to score, while poor Cheetahs defence also aided the Lions.
Ten minutes after the break the Cheetahs made a number of promising advances on the gainline and were eventually rewarded in the 49th minute when scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius scored from the back of a driving maul.
Their fightback, however, proved to be fleeting as the Lions shut the visitors out and added three more tries to the scoresheet.
Four minutes after the Cheetahs opened their account, replacement flank Warwick Tecklenburg also dotted down from the back of a Lions driving maul for the bonus-point try.
Boshoff's place-kicking made a further dent to the Cheetahs' morale as he slotted two penalty conversions four minutes apart.
With seven minutes on the clock centre Howard Mnisi added his side's fifth try of the afternoon when he finished in the corner with Harold Vorster and Courtnall Skosan both doing well to offload in the tackle.
To wrap up a convincing display, replacement hooker Armand "Akker" van der Merwe scored through a pick and go after Minnie made the initial break.Golden Lions:
CURRIE CUP SEMI-FINALS DETERMINED:
The Lions' 47-7 win over the Cheetahs means the Sharks cannot usurp them from second spot.
The Lions will host the Sharks at Ellis Park next weekend, while Western Province will host the Blue Bulls at Newlands in the other semi-final.
Tries: Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie, Ruan Combrinck, Warwick Tecklenburg, Howard Mnisi, Armand van der Merwe
Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (4)
Penalties: Boshoff (3)
Free State Cheetahs:
Try: Sarel Pretorius
Conversion: Willie du Plessis
15. Marnitz Boshoff, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Howard Mnisi, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Jaco van der Walt, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Derick Minnie, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Martin Muller, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Schalk van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Julian Redelinghuys, 19. Willie Britz, 20. Warwick Tecklenburg, 21. Mark Richards, 22 Harold Vorster
Free State Cheetahs
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 AJ Coertzen, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Lappies Labuschagne, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Torsten van Jaarseveld (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 George Marich, 18 Henco Venter, 19 Neil Claassen, 20 Shaun Venter, 21 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 22 Maphutha Dolo