Western Province emerged victorious at Newlands on Saturday night with a 36 – 15 win, which sends the Cheetahs to a relegation/promotion match.
WP has the benefit of 7 returning Springbok players, giving the home side an undeniable advantage before kick-off even happened.
In the opening 10 minutes, flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis and captain Jean de Villiers scored a penalty and try respectively, putting the hosts 8-0 up.
Andries Bekker was another returning Springbok who managed to get on the try-scorers list, as the large lock went over for a try that the TMO awarded after lengthy deliberation.
Deon Fourie added another try just before half time, by getting over the line from a driving maul after a lineout.
Fourie scored another, by breaking a few tackles up the middle before going in for the fourth try.
Duane Vermeulen celebrated his return to the Cape side with the fifth try, going over near the posts with around a quarter of the match left to give his team a 36-3 lead.
At that stage a score beyond the 50 mark looked distinctly possible but the Cheetahs came back well in the last quarter to score consolation tries through Francois Uys and Philip Snyman that gave the scoreboard some respectability.
Eben Etzebeth was awarded the man-of-the-match award, which emphasised the contribution of the players from the national side.
WP – Tries: Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen, Deon Fourie (2), Andries Bekker. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (4). Penalty: Catrakilis.
Free State – Tries: Philip Snyman, Francois Uys. Conversion: Tewis de Bruyn. Penalty: Nico Scheepers.