The Free State Cheetahs will host the Golden Lions in the Final in Bloemfontein next week.
The Cheetahs booked their place in the Grand Finale after beating the Sharks 51-30 in an entertaining 11-try encounter on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, the Lions dispatched Griquas 34-19 in the other semifinal.
The Sharks stormed into a 20-11 lead at the break and looked well on their way to booking yet another final.
However, the Cheetahs showed tremendous character in the second half to overturn the lead and record a win.
The Durban-based side started in sublime form which saw them open the scoring within two minutes after the kick-off. It was a pure class by their backline which saw flyhalf Curwin Bosch crossed the chalk.
The hosts hit back with a productive spell in which they kicked two penalty goals compliments of flyhalf Tian Schoeman and scored a try by flank, Junior Pokomela, who gathered a stunning long pass from scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, which pushed them into an 11-7 lead.
The Sharks, however, dominated as the half progressed with Junior Springbok scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba snapping up the ball from a wobbly pass for their second try, which they backed up with a penalty goal by Bosch.
Springbok wing Lwazi Mvovo added their third try two minutes before halftime as he gathered a perfectly-timed switch pass, which saw the visitors head to the break 20-11 ahead.
In the seocond half Sharks loss the servises of Aphelele Fassi which proved to be a one of the massive game changers in the end.
Bosch extended the Sharks’ lead with a penalty goal early in the second half, but the Cheetahs showed their fighting spirit with a try by winger William Small-Smith minutes later as he twisted his way through a tackle and dotted down the ball to reduce their deficit to seven points.
This fuelled the hosts’ determination to force their way back into the lead and they did just that with Pienaar and Joseph Dweba scoring within minutes of one another from sharp passes by Clayton Blommetjies, which pushed them 30-23 ahead.
The Sharks, however, struck back with Bosch touching down for the second time thanks to a brilliant dummy pass, but the home side cancelled this out as Pokomela dived in for his second try after they spread the ball wide.
The Cheetahs continued to make their presence felt in the dying minutes, with prop Ox Nche and Jasper Wiese forcing their way through the defence with powerful runs, which sealed a rewarding 51-30 victory for the home side and a rewarding home final.
For the Free State Cheetahs
Tries: Pokomela, Small-Smith, Pienaar, Dweba, Nche, Wiese
Cons: Pienaar 5
Pens: Schoeman 2
For the Sharks
Tries: Bosch 2, Nohamba, Mvovo
Cons: Bosch 2
Pens: Bosch 2
Man of the match: Aphelele Fassi was certainly one of the stars before he left the field. While Curwin Bosch returning from an injury was also a vital cog for his team. Clayton Blommethies impressed in his Cheetahs’ jersey. The fullback counterattack from the back was very important and lethal. However, our nod goes to Springbok veteran Ruan Pienaar who was simply a class act. He made loads of tackle and was very influential.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Tian Meyer (captain), 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjesi, 3 Erich de Jager, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nché.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Louis Fouche, 22 Darren Adonis.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Rhyno Smith, 23 JP Pietersen.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Paul Mente
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans
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