The Golden Lions finished the regular season with an unbeaten record after they claimed a 29-19 victory over Griquas in Johannesburg on Saturday.
In an entertaining encounter in which both sides gave the ball plenty of air, the Lions underlined their dominance in this year's competition by outscoring their opponents four tries to three with Jacques Nel crossing for a deserved brace.
The home side's head coach Johan Ackermann made 13 changes to his starting line-up and it showed as Griquas, who are at the bottom of the table, were competitive throughout and came within two points of taking the lead until the Lions sealed the win with Nel's second five pointer shortly before full-time.
The Lions didn't always have things going their way and only secured victory in the final quarter, during which Griquas played with 14 players for 10 minutes when RJ Liebenberg was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle.
Despite sticking to their expansive style of play, few of the new faces in the Lions starting line-up put up their hands to make the matchday squad for next weekend's semi-final against the Free Stae Cheetahs.
Griquas opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Carel Greeff barged over for the opening try from a line-out drive deep inside the Lions' 22.
The home side struck back immediately when Sampie Mastriet rounded off under the posts, after running onto an inside pass from Vainon Willis close to the halfway line.
The next 20 minutes was highlighted by plenty of handling errors from both sides until Kwagga Smith shrugged off a couple of defenders before crossing for the Lions' second try.
Griquas struck back when Tian Meyer went under the posts on the stroke of half-time which meant the sides were deadlocked at 14-14 at the break.
Both sides continued to run the ball from all areas of the field in the second-half but the Lions only gained the upper hand when Liebenberg received his marching orders in the 53rd minute.
Van der Walt added a penalty on the half-hour mark before Nel crossed for his first try after the Lions launched a counter-attack from deep inside their 22.
Griquas replied with an opportunistic try from Dylon Frylinck in the 77th minute but the Lions sealed the win and their 10th successive victory when Nel got over for his second try at the death.
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Nel 2, Mastriet, Smith
Cons: J van der Walt 3
Pen: J van der Walt
Tries: Greeff, Meyer, Frylinck
Cons: Prinsloo 2
Yellow card: Liebenberg
Golden Lions: 15 Vainon Willis, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Gerdus van der Walt, 11 Mark Richards, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ricky Schroeder (c), 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Ruaan Lerm, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Mark Pretorius, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Fabian Booysen, 19 Stephan de Witt, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Salom Gavor.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Sandile Ngcobo, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Carel Greeff, 7 Jono Janse van Rensburg, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jonathan Adendorf, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 Sidney Tobias, 1 Danie Minnie.
Replacements: 16 Abraham le Roux, 17 Steph Roberts, 18 Leon Karemaker, 19 Wendal Wehr, 20 Dylon Frylinck, 21 Riaan Viljoen, 22 Jonathan Francke.
Referee: AJ Jacobs