The Leopards Vodacom Cup is back on track after they brushed aside the challenge of Western Province. Michael Vlismas reports.
The Leopards won 36-28, but scored six tries to three and more accurate goalkicking would have seen them closer to 50 than 40.
It was the Leopardsâ€™ sixth win in seven matches, with the men from the North West making a strong push for a place in next monthâ€™s final. They are now four points behind second placed Bulls.
In Wellington, the Lions kept alive their slim hopes of a place in the final with a 27-18 win over the Boland Cavaliers.
The match marked the return to action for Springbok wing Ashwin Willemse and his influence certainly rubbed off on a Lions team that was always in control of this game.
Cavaliers fullback Justin Peach opened the scoring with a well-taken penalty, but a two-try burst from Timmy Goodwinâ€™s Lions side meant they went into halftime with a comfortable 15-3 lead.
The Lions stretched their lead to 20-3 early in the second half with John Daniels scoring his second try. Then the Cavaliers mounted a late charge as loose forwards Henley du Plessis and Sebastien Hilpert scored for the hosts.
But the Lions maintained their composure and replacement centre Edrich van Tonder sealed the win with the bonus point try.
Free State also won the derby against the Griffons 41-25 after leading 29-13 at halftime.
The scoreline flattered the hosts, with two late tries by Fijian wing Akuila Nacoluiviu giving the scoreboard a semblance of respectability for the Welkom men.
Boland Cavaliers 18 (3)
Tries: Henley du Plessis, Sebastian Hilpert, Ossie Damons. Penalty: Justin Peach.
Lions 27 (15)
Tries: John Daniels (2), John Cooper, Edrich van Tonder. Conversions: Cooper, Clinton de Klerk. Penalty: Cooper.
Leopards 35 (15)
Tries: Retief Uys, Chappy van Vliet, Jean Tiedt, Deon van Rensburg, Bertus Swanepoel, Anvor Schooney. Conversion: Clayton du Randt. Penalty: Du Randt.
Vodacom Western Province 28 (10)
Tries: Richard Lawson, Corne Uys, Gio Aplon. Conversion: Ricardo Croy (2). Penalties: Croy (3).
Griffons 25 (13)
Tries: Akuila Nacoluiviu (2), Colin Radebe. Conversions: Andre Hough, Jaco Steenberg. Penalties: Hough (2).
Vodacom Free State Cheetahs 41 (29)
Tries: Alwyn Hollenbach, Gavin Passens, Philip Burger, Mark Muller (2), Darron Nel, Phillip van der Merwe. Conversions: Leon van den Heever (3).