Swanepoel missed only one of his nine kicks at goal, contributing 22 points, while the visitors’ kickers failed with half their attempts at posts, which ended up costing them victory.
The Lowvelders outscored the home team by three tries to two, but their discipline let them down in the second half, which allowed Swanepoel to keep the score board ticking over.
Despite the wet conditions, which made handling difficult, the New Nation Pumas were full of enterprise in the first half and showed a keenness to throw the ball around, but they had to settle for a half-time score of 13-13.
Built on the back of a dominant scrum, the Lowvelders had more possession and territory, used clever tactical kicks and were not shy to spread the ball wide, but their efforts were often thwarted by solid Lions defence.
Simon Westraadt (hooker) scored an early maul-try and Eddie Fouche (flyhalf) kicked two penalty goals and a conversion, but the New Nation Pumas had a few more opportunities to score which they didn’t convert.
As a result, the scores were level at the break after Lions scrumhalf Morne van den Berg scored a breakaway try from an error by the visitors, almost against the run of play, two minutes before half-time.
The Lions had the early momentum after the break, with Swanepoel’s boot putting them in the lead, but the visitors refused to give up and tries by AJ le Roux (replacement hooker) – again from a rolling maul – and Ali Mgijima (replacement centre) midway through the second half put the New Nation Pumas back in the lead.
The final 12 minutes belonged to the home team though, as MJ Pelser (replacement flanker) scored their second try from a strong scrum 5m out, while Swanepoel added a few more points from the boot to secure the home team victory by four points.
Lions 32 (13) – Tries: Morne van den Berg, MJ Pelser. Conversions: Tiaan Swanepoel (2). Penalty goals: Swanepoel (6).
New Nation Pumas 28 (13) – Tries: Simon Westraadt, AJ le Roux, Ali Mgijima. Conversions: Eddie Fouche, Ginter Smuts. Penalty goals: Fouche (3).