The Toyota Cheetahs struck the first blow by winning the first game of the Toyota Challenge against Australian side, the Western Force 31-27 in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The Cheetahs squandered several chances but eventually relied on their rolling maul to get over the line when they needed to - with all four tries coming from their forwards through lineout drives.
By contrast the Force attack was more varied and while they couldn’t control the forward onslaught they faced, they scored a few beautiful tries of their own.
The game was the first of four between the two sides, with one more in Bloemfontein next week before the two sides clash at the end of the month in Perth in two games.
Force backs Harry Potter and Max Burey were their side’s stars as the Force showed more than enough enterprise to give themselves a lot of confidence going into the next game next weekend.
Hooker Marnus van der Merwe dotted down twice for the Cheetahs, with Gideon van der Merwe dotting down at the back of a maul to put the Cheetahs up 21-10.
The only Force try came from a blistering turnover attack that started in the Force’s own 22, with Ronan Leahy scoring in a true team try.
Potter scored on the halftime whistle to leave the sides 21-17 at the break.
Max Burey narrowed the score early in the second half with a penalty before Marko Janse van Rensburg went over at the back of a maul to extend the Cheetahs lead again.
Gio Leituala scored for the Force late in the game to make it a tough finish before Ruan Pienaar settled the match with a late penalty.
TOYOTA CHEETAHS - tries: Marnus van der Merwe (2), Gideon van der Merwe, Marko Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (4). Penalty: Pienaar.
WESTERN FORCE - tries: Ronan Leahy, Harry Potter, Gio Leituala. Conversions: Max Burey (3). Penalties: Burey (2)