With just over 10 minutes to go, the home team were firmly in control, but two yellow cards in quick succession nearly cost them as the Capetonians scored three late tries to put themselves in a position to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Evan Roos (flanker) was a marauding presence with ball in hand and got DHL WP on the front foot late in the game, but they ran out of time, with the Lions’ improved defence, better use of their opportunities, more clinical attack and intensity – especially in the first hour – setting the tone for the win.
No team will ever be happy when they lose, but DHL WP will have taken some solace from the two bonus points they took at Emirates Airline Park, especially since they were all but dead and buried shortly after the break.
Three of the Lions’ four first-half tries came from attacking lineouts, with Sibusiso Sangweni (flanker), PJ Botha (hooker) and Ruben Schoeman (lock) rounding off after some power-play by the home team’s pack.
Rabz Maxwane (wing) scored their other try before the break, also from numerous phases of relentless attack, to hand Jozi’s Pride a comfortable 24-10 lead after 40 minutes, with the only highlight for the visitors a typically bulldozing try from Juarno Augustus (No 8) midway through the half.
With very little possession and stuck in their own half for most of the half, the Capetonians didn’t have many options to score. But the Lions did, and they used them to great effect and to add insult to injury for the visitors, their livewire flanker, Evan Roos, was sin-binned just before the break.
If they still had aspirations to turn things around, DHL WP were crushed when Botha – yet again from a lineout – scored and Maxwane intercepted to put the home team up by 28 points inside the first 10 minutes of the second half, with Roos still in the bin and all the momentum going with the men in red and white.
If the visitors were going to have any chance of closing the gap, they had a number of brilliant scoring opportunities towards the end of the third quarter, but failed to make them count and came away empty handed.
DHL WP finally made some inroads with 10 minutes to go, but it was against 13 men with two Lions forwards in the bin for professional transgressions, with referee AJ Jacobs awarding a penalty try as their six-man scrum disintegrated close to their tryline.
Paul de Wet (replacement scrumhalf) put the visitors in line for a four-try bonus-point when he raced away from the restart, and they duly obliged when Cornel Smit scored two minutes later, but the Lions managed to hang on for the win with some resolute defence late in the game.
Lions 38 (24) – Tries: Sibusiso Sangweni, Rabz Maxwane (2), PJ Botha (2), Ruben Schoeman. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (4).
DHL Western Province 32 (10) – Tries: Juarno Augustus, Paul de Wet, Cornel Smit, Penalty try. Conversions: Tim Swiel (2). Penalty goals: Swiel (2).