Jarryd Sage scored a try in the 77th minute as the Golden Lions beat Western Province 38-34 in U21 Provincial Championship final in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
WP led 31-24 with 10 minutes to go, but the Lions squared things up with a converted try. Fullback Grant Hermanus then stepped up with a long-range penalty to break the deadlock, but the Lions fought back and Sage split the WP defence to score the all-important try.
In a well-contested match that swung one way then the other, and back again, Province overturned an early 10-point deficit before the Lions found their second wind late in the second half to sink the defending champions.
The Lions raced to a 10-point lead in the opening eight minutes with a converted try by flyhalf Curtis Jonas and a penalty from Shaun Reynolds. WP worked past their early jitters and chalked up 11 unanswered points to take the lead for the first time.
Reynolds, however, slotted a second penalty as the Lions went into the break 13-11 up.
The match opened up after the interval as the sides punched and counter-punched in an attempt to gain the ascendancy.
A try and a penalty either way levelled matters at 21-21 before WP seized control with a try from scrumhalf Justin Phillips and two Hermanus penalties for a 31-24 scoreline.
But Phillips went from hero to zero when he was yellow-carded for a deliberate infringement and the Lions pounced to snatch the title at the death to make it a one-two over WP in the U19 and U21 finals.
Golden Lions – Try: Curtis Jonas, Kobus Engelbrecht, Marco Janse van Vuren, Jarryd Sage. Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (3). Penalties: Reynolds (4).
Western Province – Try: Sibahle Maxwane, Kobus Engelbrecht, Justin Phillips. Conversions: Grant Hermanus (2). Penalties: Grant Hermanus (5).
Golden Lions U21 – 15 Kobus Engelbrecht, 14 Ronald Brown, 13 Jarryd Sage, 12 Shaun Reynolds, 11 Godfrey Ramaboea, 10 Curtis Jonas, 9 Marco Janse van Vuren, 8 Jo-Hanco de Villiers, 7 Wiehan Jacobs, 6 James Venter, 5 FP Pelser, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Clinton Theron, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Arnout Malherbe.
Subs: 16 Baard le Roux, 17 Kyle Kruger, 18 Estian Enslin, 19 Adriaan Bester, 20 Morne Moos, 21 Cameron Rooi, 22 Barend Smit.
Western Province U21 – 15 Grant Hermanus, 14 Sibahle Maxwane, 13 Eduan Keyter, 12 Ryan Oosthuizen, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Jacques Vermaulen, 6 Luke Stringer (c), 5 Eduard Zandberg, 4 Jaco Willemse, 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Percy Mngadi, 1 Kyle Whyte.
Subs: 16 Hanno Snyman, 17 Michael Kumbirai, 18 Nyasha Tarusenga, 19 Christo van der Merwe, 20 Herschel Jantjies, 21 Dennis Cox, 22 Leolin Zas.
Photo: Louis Botha/Gallo Images