The Free Staters suffered a big blow in the 15th minute as Jasper Wiese (No 8) received a red card for a dangerous charge into a ruck, and they placed extra pressure on themselves as the match progressed with a series of penalties conceded, and a yellow card to Gerhard Olivier (flanker) shortly before halftime for kicking the ball while trying to get back on side from a ruck.
Their high penalty count allowed the Cardiff Blues to kick six penalty goals in the match.
The Toyota Cheetahs trailed 17-14 at halftime after scoring two converted tries to three penalty goals and a try by the home side, but while they were only able to add three points to their score in the second half, the Cardiff Blues added three penalty goals and a try to their score for the win.
The Cardiff Blues opened up the scoring in the sixth minute with a penalty goal by Jason Tovey (flyhalf), and they built on this with a try by Aled Summerhill (winger), who dashed through on the outside thanks to some enterprising running.
The pressure mounted for the Toyota Cheetahs minutes later as Wiese received his marching orders, which reduced them to 14 men for the remainder of the match, and the home side took advantage of this immediately with Tovey slotting over his second penalty goal for an 11-0 lead.
The Toyota Cheetahs fought back bravely with Rhyno Smith (fullback) scoring a great try in the 29th minute thanks to a quick tap by experienced scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and some fantastic support play by the team.
Clayton Blommetjies (winger) dashed through for the visitors’ second try four minutes later after a good break by Junior Pokomela (flanker) and Pienaar’s conversion pushed them into a 14-11 lead.
The Cardiff Blues, however, struck back with a penalty goal by Jarrod Evans (centre) to level the scores with two minutes to play in the half, and he added another on the stroke of halftime for a 17-14 lead after Olivier was shown a yellow card.
The Toyota Cheetahs’ cards cost them six minutes into the second half as Josh Turnbull (lock) received an easy pass on the sideline with the defence two men short, and this allowed them to extend their lead to 10 points.
Pienaar reduced their deficit minutes later with a penalty goal, but this was cancelled out by back-to-back three-pointers by Evans, which took the home team’s score to 30 points.
The Cardiff Blues were reduced to 14 men with 10 minutes left on the clock as Keiron Assiratti (replacement prop) received a yellow card for infringing at a ruck inches in front of their tryline, and they were down to 13 men in the last minute as Evans received the third yellow card in the match for a deliberate knock-down.
Despite this, they managed to shut out the Toyota Cheetahs to secure the 30-17 victory.
Cardiff Blues 30 (17) – Tries: Aled Summerhill, Josh Turnbull. Conversions: Jarrod Evans. Penalty Goals: Jason Tovey (2), Jarrod Evans (4).
Toyota Cheetahs 17 (14) – Tries: Rhyno Smith, Clayton Blommetjies. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (2). Penalty: Ruan Pienaar.