The Lions survived a pair of yellow cards as an electric comeback from Western Province came up short in a Currie Cup match at Ellis Park on Wednesday night.
There was a reversal of fortunes for both teams in round two of the competition as the Lions bounced back from a surprising loss against the Pumas in the opener to hand Western Province a 38-32 defeat just days after the Cape side had hammered the Bulls in Pretoria.
Rabz Maxwane and PJ Botha each scored two tries as the Lions streaked into an early lead before two yellow cards in the final quarter sparked a flurry of three tries for Province.
The Lions dominated possession to score four first-half tries that secured a 24-10 lead at the break. Flank Sibusiso Sangweni sold Sergeal Petersen a cheeky dummy to cross first, followed by the first strike from rapid Rabz Maxwane.
Flyhalf Fred Zeilinga missed both conversions which allowed WP to cut the deficit to three points when No 8 Juarno Augustus powered over from short range and fullback Tim Swiel added the extras.
Swiel kicked a penalty in response to an unconverted try by Lions hooker PJ Botha that kept the visitors within five points in the second quarter. But, when repeated infringements from WP in their 22 sent flank Evan Roos to the naughty chair, the Lions converted their significant share of possession into a maul try from lock Ruben Schoeman just before the half-time whistle.
The break did nothing to break the hosts’ concentration as Botha and Maxwane crossed in quick succession for their respective doubles to make it 38-10 with 30 minutes to go.
Province tried to rally to claim a stake in the contest in the third quarter but fluffed opportunities to score.
That all changed midway through the final quarter after the Lions lost two players to the sin bin in the space of two minutes and Province added three tries to the scoreboard.
Referee AJ Jacobs first sent off replacement hooker Jaco Visagie for repeated infringements in the red zone and he was almost immediately followed by Schoeman for slowing the ball down after WP drove a five-metre lineout with 11 minutes remaining.
The visitors opted to scrum against the depleted Lions pack and were predictably awarded a penalty try after the Lions were sanctioned at the ensuing shove.
Province sniffed a comeback victory from the restart when reserve scrumhalf Paul de Wet finished off a long-range strike followed by a try from replacement centre Cornel Smit. Swiel added the extras and then kicked a penalty to make it a six-point game with three minutes left on the game clock.
But WP’s hopes of delivering a heroic comeback disappeared when Petersen was isolated in the tackle, penalised and the Lions hoofed the ball into touch for the win.