Cape Town - Blue Bulls flyhalf Manie Libbok saw his side to a comprehensive victory against the Free State Cheetahs in their Currie Cup encounter in Bloemfontein on Friday evening.
As it happened: Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls
The Blue Bulls won 34-12, after tying 7-7 at half-time.
The visitors had to dig deep for this win as the Cheetahs dominated for large periods but in the end they could not convert that dominance into points.
The men from Pretoria eventually took control of proceedings midway through the second half and outscored their hosts by four tries to two.
The home side were fastest out of the blocks and opened the scoring as early as the third minute when Joseph Dweba showed great pace and determination to shrug off two tackles before crossing for a deserved try.
Tian Schoeman to land the conversion attempt from close to the touchline which gave the Cheetahs an early 7-0 lead.
The Bulls soaked up the early pressure but struck back 10 minutes later when Manie Libbok scored their first try after running on to a well-timed offload from Jamba Ulengo close to the Cheetahs' posts.
Libbok added the extras which meant the sides were level at 7-7 but the Cheetahs suffered another setback shortly afterwards when Ox Nche received a yellow card for a high tackle on Ruan Nortje.
Despite their numerical advantage, the Bulls could not gain the upper-hand and failed to score points during Nche's spell on the sidelines.
The Cheetahs thought they had regained the lead when Nico Lee went over the whitewash in the 34th minute but television replays revealed that he lost the ball while dotting down.
That meant that the teams changed sides at the interval with the score deadlocked at 7-7.
The Cheetahs were fastest out of the blocks in the second half and four minutes after the restart Shaun Venter outpaced the cover defence before diving over in the right-hand corner.
That was the last time the hosts would score points and Libbok reduced the deficit for the Bulls to two points when he added a penalty in the 51st minute.
Five minutes later, the Bulls took the lead for the first time courtesy of a penalty try after Justin Basson illegally collapsed a driving maul deep inside his 22.
Basson was also yellow carded for his indiscretion and this allowed the visitors to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
On the hour-mark, Jade Stighling found himself in space out wide - after gatrhering a fine cut out pass from Libbok - and did well to round a defender before scoring his side's third try.
Libbok slotted the conversion and added another penalty five minutes later which gave his side a 15-point cushion and just before full-time Divan Rossouw sealed his side's victory when he crossed for their fourth try.
Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Joseph Dweba, Shaun Venter
Conversion: Tian Schoeman
Tries: Manie Libbok, Jade Kyle Stighling, Divan Rossouw, Penalty Try
Free State Cheetahs
15 Malcom Jaer, 14 Rabz Maxwane, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Nico Lee, 11 William Small-Smith, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje (captain), 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Erich de Jager, 18 Gunther Janse van Vuuren, 19 Dennis Visser, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Louis Fouche
15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conrad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Matthys Basson
Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Hendre Stassen, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Theo Maree, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Earll Douwrie