South Western Districts outscored Eastern Province by six tries to two in their resounding 40-14 victory at Craven Week in Polokwane.
In a match in which both sides battled to keep control of the ball for long periods, SWD made better use of their opportunities and punished EP regularly from turnover ball.
SWD made a positive start to the game, moving swiftly into the Eastern Province 22, but they could not make it count as the EP defence stood firm.
The early exchanges were fairly scrappy as both teams gave it a full go but lacked the accuracy to finish their opportunities off, resulting in a scoreless opening 15 minutes.
EP came close to breaking the deadlock when left wing Keanu Vers made an interception only to be hauled down just short of the line, and instead his team was reduced to 14 men as lock Anru Botha was shown a yellow card for punching at the ensuing ruck.
It did not take SWD long after that to open the scoring as powerful left wing Duhan van der Merwe picked up a turnover ball on halfway and raced away down the blindside for the try.
Despite being a man down, EP took the ball deep into the SWD 22 as they searched for a response, but their finishing let them down once again as SWD held on well.
Instead it would be SWD to score next, with Van der Merwe collecting a chip over the top to run in his second try which gave his team a 14-0 lead at the half-time break.
EP suffered another big setback at the start of the second half, as a fluid SWD attacking movement saw big lock Donavan van der Berg cruise over for their third try which gave them a commanding 21-0 lead.
The Eastern Cape outfit needed to hit back to keep their hopes of staying in the game alive, and bashed away at the SWD defence until replacement prop Erich de Jager was able to force his way over for the try.
That seemed to light a fire under the SWD side as they stormed into the EP 22 and hooker Brandon Haas was the one who forced his way over after a quick tap from an attacking scrum.
That left EP searching for a miracle as they found themselves trailing 28-7 with just 15 minutes left to play, but they were forced to attack from their own half and paid the price as another turnover resulted in SWD flank Benjamin Jansen van Vuuren stretching to extend their lead to 35-7.
EP struck back when replacement Johann van Niekerk showed good strength to score their second try, but SWD would have the final say when JP Coetzee ran around to notch their sixth try.
Man of the match: SWD left wing Duhan van der Merwe played for SA Schools last year and he showed why as he used his pace and power to score the first two tries for his team
For Eastern Province:
Tries: De Jager, Van Niekerk
Cons: Stapelberg 2
For South Western Districts:
Tries: Van der Merwe 2, Van der Berg, Haas, Jansen van Vuuren, Coetzee
Cons: Human 5
Yellow card: Anru Botha (17 mins, foul play)
Eastern Province: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Dylan Vermaak, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Luan Nieuwoudt, 11 Keanu Vers, 10 Theo Stapelberg, 9 Luciano Daniels, 8 Martin Groenewald, 7 Morney Moos, 6 Bathandwa Cafu, 5 Anru Botha, 4 Elandre van der Merwe, 3 Stephan Ebersohn, 2 Justin Antonie, 1 Kaden Prince.
Replacements: 16 Arno Lotter, 17 Jody Bambie, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 Johann van Niekerk, 20 Matthew Alborough, 21 Siyambuka Lawu, 22 Reynold Gabriel King.
South Western Districts: 15 Hennie Barnard, 14 Lorenzo Gordon, 13 Gene Willemse, 12 Douw Schoeman, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dewald Human, 9 Remu Malan, 8 Dian Koen, 7 Benjamin Jansen van Vuuren, 6 Geor Malan, 5 Eduard Zandberg, 4 Donavan van der Berg, 3 Stefaan Grundlingh, 2 Brandon Haas, 1 Nemo Roelofse.
Replacements: 16 Marne Botha, 17 Juandre Digue, 18 Anton Smit, 19 Daniel Maree, 20 Maurice White, 21 Jayden Onkers, 22 Jean-Pierre Coetzee.