A makeshift Western Province side warmed to the challenge with a 49-21 win over the Leopards in their Currie Cup clash at a chilly Newlands on Saturday evening.
With several key players ruled out through injury, Province were forced to turn to some less experienced campaigners and it took the home team the majority of the first half to tame the Leopards who looked to run the ball at every opportunity.
During the early stages, Province battled to lay their hands on the ball, as the Leopards kept possession close to their forwards. The visitor's pack produced a spirited start which took the Province defence by surprise.
It looked like Province would weather the early onslaught but the Leopards soon found the gaps and consequently ran in two tries in the opening 19 minutes.
Scrum-half Whestley Moolman and centre Charl Weideman provided the finishing touches to crown the visiting side's efforts and fly-half Clayton Durand converted both tries.
The few opportunities that came Province's way came to nought as handling errors thwarted their efforts.
Fly-half Isma-eel Dollie was off target with an early penalty attempt for the hosts, but he made amends in the ninth minute to open their scoring account.
Midway through the first half, Province managed to impose themselves on the match as they transferred the pressure and pinned the Leopards down in their own half for a sustained period.
The home side relieved the pressure in the 27th minute when flank Tertius Daniller secured a turn-over on the Leopards' 22m line and burst through the defence for his team's first try, which was converted by Dollie (14-10).
Forced into defence ahead of the half-time break, the Leopards' attempts to maintain their lead were halted by infringements at the breakdown.
They gave away resultant penalties, two of which were goaled by Dollie, as Province took the lead for the first time in the match, with a 16-14 advantage.
After the break, the Leopards were forced to settle for another spell of defence deep inside their half.
A driving maul from the Leopards' 22m line opened the way for flanker Nick Fenton- Wells to grab Province's second try in the 47th minute, and Dollie's conversion opened a comfortable nine-point gap.
Province started showing greater cohesion in their build-up work, and as a result, Leopards were never allowed back in the game, although they battled on gamely.
As the hour-mark approached, Province's pack enjoyed a penetrative sortie upfield and when the ball was recycled wide, winger Danie Poolman dived over in the corner.
Dollie made way for substitute scrum-half Nic Groom, who had hardly stepped on the field when he was presented with a scoring pass as he cantered in unchallenged for Province's bonus point.
Duvenage, who moved to fly-half in place of Dollie, failed with the conversion attempt, but the hosts nonetheless held a comfortable 35-14 lead.
The 21-point cushion might have been the cue for the hosts to take their foot off the pedal, and they were punished as Leopards launched a counter attack which led to a try by Maritz Hoffman. Substitute Wesley Dunlop converted, narrowing the gap to 14 points.
After Province had cleared their substitutes bench, they never quite regained their cohesion, but they did manage a fifth try at the death when prop Brok Harris barged over next to the posts. Duvenage added the conversion which doubled the Leopards' tally (42-21).
In the final minute, flanker Siya Kolisi secured Province's final try, and Duvenage added the conversion to seal the win as the Leopards were left trailing at the bottom of the standings.
For Western Province:
Try: Daniller, Fenton-Wells, Poolman, Groom, Harris, Kolisi
Conversion:Dollie 3, Duvenage 2
Penalty: Dollie 3
For the Leopards:
Try: Moolman, Weideman, Hoffman
Conversion: Durand 2, Dunlop
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Isma-eel Dollie, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Tertius Daniller, 6 Nick Fenton-Wells, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg (c), 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Nizaam Carr, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Steven Hunt.
Leopards: 15 George Tossel, 14 Jovan Bowles, 13 Charl Weideman, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 Vainon Willis, 10 Clayton du Randt (c), 9 Westley Moolman, 8 Spanner Pretorius, 7 MB Lusaseni, 6 Robert Kruger, 5 Brad Mockford, 4 Roan van Heerden, 3 Stephan Bezuidenhout, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 Snoepie Coetzee.
Replacements: 16 Jacques Moller, 17 BG Uys, 18 Morne Hanekom, 19 Brendan Snyman , 20 Johann Laker, 21 Wesley Dunlop, 22 Joubert Engelbrecht.
Referee: Sindile Mayende