The Lions bounced back from their opening weekend defeat to the Pumas with what became a thrilling yet tense 38-32 win over a heavily-fancied Western Province in a Currie Cup clash at Ellis Park on Wednesday night.
SCORECARD | Lions 38-32 WP
The Lions had led 38-10 with 10 minutes to play, but were reduced to 13 men as their visitors mounted a comeback that came close to securing what would have been a stunning win.
The midweek clash, set to be a regular feature in this year's competition, saw the hosts dominate for large periods.
WP captain Ernst van Rhyn had said in the build-up to the contest that the Lions would be "hurting" after their Pumas disappointment and he expected them to bounce back strongly.
That proved to be the case, with the Lions running in a total of 6 tries to 4 from their visitors.
The Lions were 24-10 leaders at half-time, thanks to tries from Sibusiso Sangweni, Rabz Maxwane, PJ Botha and Ruben Schoeman.
WP had scored through No 8 Juarno Augustus on 19 minutes, but that was the only joy they would have in the opening period.
On paper, one would have expected Province to be the stronger side, but the Lions defence was strong, particularly in the second half, as wave after wave of WP attack was thwarted.
When the Lions were down to 13 men after two yellow cards, though, WP had some joy.
Still, the Lions had enough in the bank to get over the line.
Hooker Botha scored his second after half-time, as did Maxwane, but with 10 minutes to go WP landed a penalty try from a scrum that saw them capitalise on their numerical advantage.
Replacement Paul de Wet then rounded off a WP attack straight after the restart to set up an interesting final 10 minutes, and when another substitute in Cornel Smit scored WP's fourth in the 74th minute, a comeback of epic proportions was all of a sudden on the cards.
Swiel knocked over a WP penalty in the 77th minute, having missed his conversion after the Smit try, and the score read 38-32 to the Lions.
WP were in possession when the full-time hooter sounded, looking for a moment of individual brilliance that could have secured the win, but it was not to be.
The result means that both sides have won one and lost one two fixtures into their Currie Cup campaign.
Lions 38 (24)
Tries: Sibusiso Sangweni, Rabz Maxwane (2), PJ Botha (2), Ruben Schoeman
Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (4)
Western Province 32 (10)
Tries: Juarno Augustus, Penalty Try, Paul de Wet, Cornel Smit
Conversions: Tim Swiel (2)
Penalties: Swiel (2)