Cheetahs winger Sergeal Petersen scored a try after the hooter to help his side to a hard-earned 30-24 Currie Cup victory over the Lions at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.
It was heartbreak for the Lions, who remain rooted at the foot of the table with one point from six outings, as they led 24-23 in the final minute of the match after Jaco van der Walt’s penalty.
The Cheetahs reclaimed their position at the top of the log with 25 points from six matches after they were temporarily overtaken by the Sharks, who beat Western Province 21-20 in the earlier kickoff.
The first try of the match went to the Lions in the third minute through Andries Ferreira after they launched an attacking move that resulted from a break by Antony Volmink. It was followed by a conversion from Jaco van der Walt.
Their lead was short-lived as the Cheetahs leveled matters three minutes later through a touch-down by Gerhard Olivier after they managed to turn the ball over and Currie Cup debutant Robbie Petzer was spot on with his kick to convert.
The Lions were reduced to 14 men after 18 minutes when Corne Fourie was shown a yellow card for dangerous play but the Cheetahs failed to take advantage of their numerical advantage as he returned from the sin bin with the score still level at 7-7.
The Cheetahs took the lead for the first time in the match when Petzer found the middle of the poles with his kick after the home side won an offside penalty just after the hour mark.
Petzer further increased the lead for the Cheetahs on the stroke of halt time with his second successful penalty kick of the afternoon, this time from long range, as the hosts went to the break leading 13-7.
The Lions scored their second try six minutes after the restart through Hacjivah Dayimani after a scrum to go ahead again, and Fabian Booysen further increased the lead for the visitors by eight points with Van der Walt converting both five pointers.
On the hour, the Cheetahs reduced the deficit to five points with a successful penalty kick Petzer as they tried to get back in the game by disrupting the Lions’ momentum.
The Cheetahs clawed their way back into the lead in the 69th minute through a try by South African Sevens star Rosko Specman, which was completed by a conversion by replacement kicker William Small-Smith.
There was still drama to unfold in the closing stages as Van der Walt scored a penalty as the visitors reclaimed their lead by a point with three minutes remaining on the clock.
But, it was not to be enough as Sergeal Petersen scored a try that was converted by Small-Smith after the hooter had sounded to break the hearts of the Lions.
Cheetahs: (13) 30
Tries: Olivier, Specman, Petersen
Conversions: Petzer (1), Small-Smith (2)
Penalty: Petzer (3)
Lions (7) 24
Tries: Ferreira, Dayimani, Booysen
Conversions: Van Der Walt (3)
Penalty: Van Der Walt (1)
Yellow Cards: Fourie