The result ensured that the Free Staters maintained their dominance over their Port Elizabeth rivals in the competition, with the win marking their seventh successive victory against the team since their inclusion in the Guinness PRO14 in the 2017/2018 season.
The Isuzu Southern Kings looked set for a historic first win against the Free Staters with 10 minutes left in the match, but these hopes were crushed by Smith’s brace and experienced Springbok scrumhalf, Ruan Pienaar’s two conversions – the second of which was to win the match.
The hosts made a strong statement from the outset, with flyhalf Bader Pretorius scoring a converted try and kicking two penalty goals in the first 28 minutes to build up a 13-0 lead.
In stark contrast, the Toyota Cheetahs struggled to find their momentum as they made unforced errors throughout the half, however, they managed to score a morale-boosting try five minutes before halftime, which saw them trail by eight points at the break.
The Free Staters stepped up their attack and looked more confident in their approach in the second half and this allowed them to outscore the hosts four tries to two, which saw them wrap up the match with five tries to three by the opposition.
Pretorius opened up the scoring with a penalty goal in the fourth minute after sustained pressure on attack, and he received a timely pass close to the tryline four minutes later after the Toyota Cheetahs failed to gather the ball in a lineout, and forced his way over the chalk.
He added the conversion and a subsequent penalty goal, while the visitors remained scoreless.
The Toyota Cheetahs were dealt a blow in the 32nd minute as Tian Schoeman (flyhalf) was yellow carded for infringing at a ruck, but despite this, they managed to score their first points of the match compliments of a try by Sintu Manjezi (lock) who gathered a loose ball from a lost lineout and dashed through.
This proved to be the last points of the half, which saw the Toyota Cheetahs trailing 13-5.
The Isuzu Southern Kings struck first in the second half with scrumhalf and captain, Stefan Ungerer, scoring an intercept try three minutes after play resumed, and the conversion by Pretorius pushed them 20-5 ahead.
The hosts, however, were reduced to 14 men soon after as Thembelani Bholi (flanker) received a yellow card for making a tackle from an off-side position close to the tryline, and this paved the way for Manjezi to score his second try from a pick-and-go.
This, however, was cancelled out by Isuzu Southern Kings centre JT Jackson in the 53rd minute as he gathered a perfect chip kick in front of the tryline, but their encouraging lead was short-lived as Toyota Cheetahs replacement hooker Wilmar Arnoldi scored a try from an effective rolling maul, to reduce their deficit to 10 points.
Pretorius stretched the home side’s lead with his third penalty goal, but the Toyota Cheetahs continued to fight, and their efforts paid off with Smith scoring back-to-back tries – the second of which was lost and gathered in the air before grounding it – and the successful conversions by Pienaar, sealed a last-gasp 31-30 victory for the Free Staters.
Isuzu Southern Kings 30 (13) – Tries: Bader Pretorius, Stefan Ungerer, JT Jackson. Conversions: Bader Pretorius (3). Penalty Goals: Bader Pretorius (3).
Toyota Cheetahs 31 (5) - Tries: Sintu Manjezi (2), Wilmar Arnoldi, Rhyno Smith (2). Conversions: Tian Schoeman, Ruan Pienaar (2).