GARETH DUNCAN watched the Free State Cheetahs cruise to a 53-14 win over the EP Kings in Bloemfontein.
Despite the loss of 13 first-choice players to injury, Free State hammered the First Division champions in the first leg of the promotion-relegation play-offs. The hosts grabbed four tries on the each side of half-time to secure the big win.
Inside centre Andries Strauss, who will join the Kings next season, grabbed a brace, while tighthead prop Ross Geldenhuys, wing Nico Scheepers, No 8 Phillip van der Walt, hooker Adriaan Strauss and wing Rayno Benjamin crossed the chalk. Referee Jonathan Kaplan also awarded Free State a penalty try at the death.
The EP Kings were behind 24-0 at the break, and scored two consolation tries during the second stanza via flank Devin Oosthuizen and inside centre Shane Gates.
The second leg will be played in PE next weekend, but it’s highly unlikely that the Kings will be able to come back from this massive deficit. The Cheetahs landed a knockout blow in the first round.