GARETH DUNCAN watched the Free State Cheetahs grab a 35-20 bonus-point victory over Griquas in Bloemfontein.
Free State were made to sweat as they relinquished a 17-6 half-time lead after Griquas fought back to make it 20-20 on the hour mark.
However, the hosts broke their four-match losing streak thanks to telling scores from fullback Hennie Daniller and wing Raymond Rhule.
The first came from a midfield break from Rhule, which saw the Cheetahs surge into Griquas’ red zone. While the speedster was brought down illegally by opposite number JP Nel, who later was yellow carded for the high tackle, the ball was spread wide for Daniller to dot down.
In the final movement of general play, Rhule found space out wide to score the fourth and bonus-point try.
Wing Nico Scheepers also played a vital role with the boot, slotting six of his seven goal attempts.
The Cheetahs dominated the first half, scoring two tries through tighthead prop Ross Geldenhuys and skipper Robert Ebersohn. Both players drove over from close range.
Free State continued to create several other promising opportunities, but poor interplay and decision-making allowed Griquas – who were a man down midway through the first half after Willie le Roux’s sin binning – to escape further punishment.
Flyhalf Francois Brummer scored all the visitors’ points in the opening 40 via two penalties as they trailed 17-6 at the break.
Griquas drew level thanks to tries from flank Marnus Schoeman and wing Jannie Boshoff. But Free State finished strong to record a vital victory. The Cheetahs now jump up to the fourth place on the log.