Golden Lions moved three points clear at the Currie Cup summit after sealing a gritty 22-9 victory over Western Province at Newlands.
Golden Lions moved three points clear at the Currie Cup summit after recording an impressive 22-9 victory over Western Province at Newlands.
The hosts had their fair share of possession and enjoyed territorial advantage for sustained spells but they eventually fell short against the champs.
The Lions were full of running from the kick-off and rarely booted for positional gains but their attempts to cut the Province defensive lines by trying to force gaps came to zero in Cape Town.
Their early pressure resulted in a third-minute penalty which an fly-half Butch James slotted.
Once WP were able to wrest the initiative, they set up several movements into the Lions' half but never looked like cracking the visitors' defence.
Much of the home side's good work was undone by speculative long-range passes which went astray, as well as conceding ball at breakdowns.
Midway through the first half, Western Province managed to take play twice up to the Lions try-line but they were denied.
Full-back Joe Pietetersen, however, added three points from a penalty to draw them level after 23 minutes.
The Lions closed the half strongly and they took a deserving 6-3 lead two minutes ahead of the break when James slotted a second penalty.
After the interval, the Lions picked up where they left off and their 43rd minute surge into the Province 22-metre area yielded a penalty, which James converted.
Home fly-half Demetri Catrakilis reduced the deficit two minutes later with a penalty, and moments later he equalised for the hosts after James was yellow-carded for a high tackle.
The setback did not seem to deter the Lions and their 14-man effort was good enough to force a Province infringement which wing Ruan Combrink, deputising for James, kicked well to regain the lead for the visitors.
As the match approached the hour mark, Western Province attacked the Golden Lions try-line relentlessly in a hectic six-minute spell without success.
Once the Lions braved this onslaught, they regained James' services and Province looked all the more less penetrative.
Lions right wing Deon Helberg turned the match on its head with an intercept try which James converted in the 65th minute for a handy 10-point lead.
And if a sloppy Province side had any ideas of pulling the game out of the fire, they were stopped in their tracks by another James penalty eight minutes from the end.
For Western Province:
Pen: Pietersen, Catrakilis 2
For Golden Lions:
Pen: James 5, Combrink
Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Helmut Lehmann, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Pat Howard.
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco Van der Merwe, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (c).
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Ettienne Oosthuizen, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon van Rensburg, 22 James Kamana.
Referee: Marius Jonker