The Golden Lions produced another impressive win, a 42-12 triumph over a young Western Province team in an entertaining affair at Ellis Park on Friday.
The home team showed their superiority in an commanding first-half performance - racing into a 28-0 lead in the first half-hour, with two tries each by Ruan Combrinck and Nicolaas Hanekom.
A late first-half score (making it 28-5 at the break) and a raft of changes in the second half, allowed a willing WP side back into the game - narrowing the gap to 12-28.
However, when the Lions returned their established players to the field in the final quarter they raced clear - scoring two more quality tries, by Derick Minnie and Gavin Annandale.
The Johannesburg outfit is preparing for their Super Rugby promotion-relegation play-off match against the lowest ranked South African side - most likely to be the Southern Kings, the team that replaced them this year.
WP added the Stormers' duo of hooker Siyabonga Ntubeni and scrumhalf Nic Groom (who captained the side), allowing these players to get some much needed game time.
Ntubeni has missed most of the season due to injury, and Groom has fallen out of favour with the Stormers' management following a string of disappointing performances.
The hosts - who were forced into a late change when captain Warren Whiteley was injured in the captain's run on Thursday - got off to the best possible start when Combrinck was put through by the Lions backline, before dotting down inside the opening three minutes. Marnitz Boshoff added two points from the conversion.
Having gained the early advantage, the Lions had to wait 20 minutes before doubling their lead through Hanekom, before Boshoff converted, putting the home side 14 points ahead.
Hanekom scored his second of the match four minutes later, after a promising WP attack ended in Hanekom intercepting and sprinting home from inside his own 22 metre area.
WP conceded their fourth try shortly after, as Combrinck went over for his second, which Boshoff coolly converted to keep his 100 percent record intact as the game reached the half-hour mark.
A quick tap-'n-go saw Joshua Katzen go over for WP's first score right on the half-time hooter - 5-28 at the break.
The visitors started where they had left off in the opening period, as Dillyn Leyds ran over for WP's second, which flyhalf Tim Swiel converted for his first successful attempt at goal.
WP maintained the pressure, but going into the final quarter the Lions brought back a few big guns and they stretched their lead to 23. Flank Derick Minnie waltzed past the WP defence and trotted over for the home side's fifth try under the posts.
Gavin Annandale was next to dot down for the Lions, after the second-half replacement finished off a furious raid by driving over from close range.
Man of the match: Dillyn Leyds and Pat Howard had a few impressive runs, Tim Swiel had his moments for Western Province and hooker Siyabonga Ntubeni produced an energetic performance. The Lions back ran some interesting lines - Ruan Combrinck, Nicolaas Hanekom and Alwyn Hollenbach always threatening. Flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff produced a polished performance and scrumhalf Michael Bondesio was effective behind a dominant pack. And the real heroes came from up front - the Lions completely dominating the scrums and also making life a nightmare for WP in the line-outs. The loose trio of Willie Brits, Derick Minnie and Jaco Kriel also produced their usual fiery efforts. Our award goes to Lions flank Derick Minnie, who was involved in everything and despite being on the wrong side of a few refereeing calls just edged Brits.
For the Golden Lions:
Tries: Combrinck 2, Hanekom 2, Minnie, Annandale
Cons: Boshoff 4, L Cronje 2
For Western Province:
Tries: Katzen, Leyds
Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Willie Brits, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain).
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Gavin Annandale, 19 Ross Cronje, 20 Dylan des Fountain, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Kobus de Kock, 23 Julian Redelinghuys.
Western Province: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Devon Williams, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Rayn Smid, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Joshua Katzen, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Taz Fuzani, 3 Dylan Rogers, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Ashley Wells.
Replacements: 16, Stephan Coetzee, 17 Allistair Vermaak, 18 Jean Kleyn, 19 Carel du Preez, 20 Ryan Olivier, 21 Godlin Masimla, 22 Kobus van Wyk.
Referee: Ben Crous
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Gerrie de Bruin
TMO: Willie Roos