Butch James scored 21 points as the Golden Lions put off-field issues to one side in beating the Free State Cheetahs 43-20 in the Currie Cup.
Despite being without a coach, assistant coach and conditioning coach, the hosts were strong against a team dubbed competition outsiders.
Their four tries came from Derick Minnie, Andries Coetzee, Hendrik Roodt and replacement Ruan Combrinck but it was the place-kicking of James that grabbed the headlines as the former Bok scored a 100 per cent record in Johannesburg.
Except for the third quarter, when the Cheetahs fielded a number of replacements and came back strongly, the Lions were in control throughout.
They had dominated possession and territory, scrummed well and were impressive with their drives. They were also quicker to the breakdown and full of running at the back, which led to them spreading the ball wide whenever possible.
They also won turnovers when it mattered most - notably on two occasions just after the break when Free State pressured the try-line and looked like reducing the 17-point deficit.
After one of those turnovers the Lions nearly scored at the other end - but then the Cheetahs turned over possession and Sarel Pretorius, with some nifty footwork, scored under the posts. However, the new referral system cost the visitors as the awarded try was overturned.
However, it was only a temporary setback and wing Raymond Rhule scored two scintillating tries in a great fightback, with only James' fourth penalty keeping the Lions' score going.
The Lions lead had shrunk from 23-6 to 26-20 with 18 minutes' play left before Lions lock Roodt galloped in following a good Lions build-up. James converted for a full house of seven kicks and then made it eight with his fifth penalty with seven minutes remaining.
In another first for these two teams the trial Pitch Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) was implemented eleven minutes into the match when Roodt left the field to be assessed. He returned a few minutes later to make an impressive contribution that included a try - and the PSCA was used on a number of other occasions, with the players passed fit every time.
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Minnie, Coetzee, Roodt, Combrinck
Con: James 3, G Cronje
Pen: James 5
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Rhule 2
Con: Smit 2
Pen: Smit 2
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (capt).
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Guy Cronje, 22 Ruan Combrinck.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn (c), 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Pieter van Zyl, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Lappies Labuschagné, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Waltie Vermeulen, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Schalk van der Merwe, 17 Elandré Huggett, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Lucas Floors, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Philip Snyman.
Referee: Marius Jonker