CAPE TOWN – The visiting Golden Lions held on for a close-shave 30-28 win over rudderless Western Province in a rousing Currie Cup clash at Newlands on Saturday evening.
It was WP's second consecutive defeat after they were beaten by the Sharks last week.
The final result, in front of fewer than 10 000 people, was in the balance right to the end as the game to-and-froed in the final 15 minutes when WP surrendered the lead for the first time in the match.
Eight minutes from the end, Lions fullback Tyrone Greenm scored a breakaway try to level scores at 28-all and flyhalf Shaun Reynolds banged over the conversion for what looked like a matchwinning strike for a 30-28 lead. And indeed that's the way it turned out.
WP did have a chance to save the match five minutes from the end, but their flyhalf Joshua Stander struck the uprights with his penalty attempt.
The match started off at a frenetic pace with the visiting Lions running hard with ball in hand. They made gains territorially, but they were caught in the crossfire inside the WP half where the defence was alerted to attacking variations.
WP came good on their first raid into the Lions' 22m area where after a second 5m line-out, hooker Scarra Ntubeni peeled off the back of a rolling maul to barge over in the corner. Josh Stander's touchline conversion sailed through the uprights for a 7-0 lead after 10 minutes' play.
WP looked to up the ante a few minutes later when they kicked a close-in penalty to touch to set up a 5m line-out. WP's power upfront was again in evidence as they made ground with the rolling maul, before scrumhalf Paul de Wet held on to a feed from Ntubeni to score next to the corner flag.
Another glorious Stander strike from the touchline saw WP double their lead midway through the half (14-0).
There was an excellent response from the Lions a few minutes later when they attacked strongly down their right channel and the raid was rounded off by lock Ruben Schoeman. Flyhalf Shaun Reynolds slotted over the conversion from the touchline (14-7).
But WP shrugged off the setback with their third try as their powerful maul paved the way for a second converted Ntubeni try just past the half-hour mark (21-7).
Just ahead of the break, Reynolds sent his side into double figures with a close-in penalty (21-10).
The Lions returned with a greater sense of purpose and threatened briefly, but they were twice held up just short of the tryline as some desperate WP defence kicked in.
Reynolds did, however, exact a measure of reward with another penalty (21-13).
However, the rolling maul again came into play moments later when the Lions drove the opposition back before hooker Pieter Jansen dotted down. Reynolds' conversion brought the Lions within striking distance of the hosts who at one time enjoyed a 14-point lead (21-20).
Play had hardly restarted when WP ran the opposition ragged with a move from inside their own half, and fullback Dillyn Leyds showed a fine turn of speed as he supplied the finishing touch with a try next to the posts for an easy conversion just ahead of the hour mark (28-20).
Jaco Coetzee, the WP flanker was yellow-carded 12 minutes from the end and the Lions reduced the deficit from the resultant penalty which Reynolds converted (28-23).
Green's breakaway try, converted by Reynolds sealed the game for the Lions, seven minutes ahead of the final whistle.