The Free State Cheetahs booked a place in the Currie Cup Semi-final when they beat the Blue Bulls 22-7 at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
The Blue Bulls were given a lifeline 6 minutes from full time when Cheetahs replacement Schalk van der Merwe was red carded for a dangerous tackle but they were unable to use the advantage and instead the Cheetahs increased their score.
With a man off the field Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss beat fellow Bok JJ Engelbrecht to the ball and scored the Cheetahs final try which put the match beyond doubt.
The hosts had only to score a single log point against the Bulls, but instead managed four that resulted in them cementing their place in the knock out stages. The Bulls had the odds against them and in the end it was all too much for them.
The hosts started at a frantic pace and put the Blue Bulls under pressure early on. The pressure was converted into penalties for the hosts, but fly half Elgar Watts struggled to kick at goal and six points were squandered.
It was Watts however who helped his side to the first points of the match when he broke through the Bulls' defence in the ninth minute to put his centre Robert Ebersohn under the uprights. Watts converted.
Watts kicked his third penalty attempt shortly after, as the Cheetahs succeeded in keeping the Bulls on the back foot. That gave the hosts a comfortable lead early on of ten points and left the visitors to regroup under the uprights.
The visitors did succeed in launching a couple of good attacks, but they seldom progressed further than the Cheetahs 22 metre line.
The hosts were ferocious on attack in the first half and it reflected on the score board. The Cheetahs also succeeded in their attempts to counter the Bulls' driving mauls and on many occasions smothered any chance at points from that facet of play for the visitors.
The Bulls had the final say in the first half however, putting their first points on the board on the stroke of half time. Prop Marcel van der Merwe scored for the visitors after the Bulls tried on numerous times to breach the Cheetahs defensive line.
Fly half Handre Pollard converted to give the Bulls more to smile about with the half time score 10-7 in the hosts favour.
The Bulls looked better when the second half commenced, but silly penalties again supplied the Cheetahs with enough attacking ball.
The Bulls started struggling again, as shown when a silly little box kick by Bulls centre Jan Serfontein was intercepted and a try scored by Elgar Watts for the hosts. Watts converted to stretch his side's lead to ten points once again.
The Bulls tried to hit back, but they lacked any finesse on the attack. The Cheetahs were outstanding on defence, preventing the visitors from scoring.
Springbok hooker and Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss scored near the end to put the result beyond any doubt.
That was after replacement prop Schalk van der Merwe was red carded for a spear tackle.
The Bulls couldn't capitalise on the overlap however.
Final Score Free State Cheetahs 22 (10) Blue Bulls 7 (7)
Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Robert Ebersohn, Elgar Watts, Adriaan Strauss
Conversions: Elgar Watts (2)
Penalty: Elgar Watts.
Try: Marcel van der Merwe
Conversion: Handre Pollard.
Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman, Francois de Bruin
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee with Nic van Stryp in training
Free State Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller; Ryno Benjamin, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule; Elgar Watts, Sarel Pretorius; Philip van der Walt, Pieter Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo; Lood de Jager, Francois Uys; Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: AJ le Roux, Schalk van der Merwe, Teboho Mohoje, Freddy Ngoza, Piet van Zyl, Johan Goosen, Willie du Plessis.
Blue Bulls: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Handre Pollard, Rudy Paige, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross (capt), David Bulbring, Paul Willemse, Frik Kirsten, Bongi Mbonambi, Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: Bandise Maku, Werner Kruger, Grant Hattingh, Jean Cook, Lohan Jacobs, Francois Venter, Clayton Blommetjies.