CHEETAHS 26 LIONS 5
BLOEMFONTEIN: A burst of scoring in the first half set up a 26-5 win for the Cheetahs against the Lions in a Super Rugby match at Free State Stadium Saturday.
The win gave the home team a six-point advantage on the log after a battle between the bottom teams in the South African conference.
It could prove a crucial difference as the team which finishes last could face relegation as a result of a decision by the South African Rugby Union to guarantee a place in next year's competition to newcomers Southern Kings.
It took the Cheetahs 20 minutes to score the first points of the match, through a penalty by fly-half Johan Goosen but they then took control during a 15-minute period in which they added another 20 points to go into half-time 23-0 ahead.
The home team crossed the try-line barely a minute after Goosen's opening penalty when Lions wing Deon van Rensburg, under pressure, failed to find touch inside his own 22-metre line.
Cheetahs spread the ball quickly across the field and centre Robert Ebersohn skipped through for a try.
Two more Goosen penalties were followed by a second try by Ebersohn, after left wing Willie le Roux ghosted into the backline from the blindside to set up the score.
Lions pressed hard in the closing minutes of the half, five times spurning kickable penalties in an attempt to score a try but their pressure failed to yield points, with a pass going into touch almost three minutes after the half-time hooter.
The Johannesburg-based team came out firing in the second half and dominated possession and territory.
But their only reward was a try 15 minutes from the end by flank Cobus Grobbelaar following a break from a line-out by replacement scrum-half Michael Bondesio.
Cheetahs could add only a solitary penalty by replacement fly-half Sias Ebersohn in the second half.
Goosen did not return after half-time after appearing to suffer an injured left shoulder when he was tackled heavily by opposing fly-half Elton Jantjies.
Jantjies, who kicked nine penalties when the Lions won 27-25 in a first round match between the teams in Johannesburg, did not have a single penalty attempt and missed his only kick at goal when he failed to convert Grobbelaar's try.
CHEETAHS 26 (Robert Ebersohn 2 tries Johan Goosen 2 cons Goosen 3, Sias Ebersohn pens) bt LIONS 5 (Cobus Grobbelaar try) at Vodacom Park. Referee: Mark Lawrence.