JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Western Province survived a late scare to beat Griquas 19-13 Friday and go five points clear at the top of the South African Currie Cup table.
Bottom team Griquas were camped inside the Province 22 for several minutes after the siren sounded, but finally lost possession and the chance to grab a shock win.
It was a match title-holders Province should have wrapped up much earlier at a freezing, rain-lashed Newlands stadium in Cape Town.
They dominated the scrums and stole several Griquas line-outs, but could not turn possession and territorial advantages into a decisive lead.
Fly-half Kurt Coleman kicked three penalties and converted a try by scrum-half Nic Groom to become the leading Currie Cup scorer with 58 points.
Demetri Catrakilis, back after a Super 15 stint at Southern Kings, made his first appearance this season and slotted a penalty after replacing Coleman.
Province seemed hard done by six minutes before half-time when the referee yellow-carded right-wing Gerhard van den Heever for an apparent punch.
His decision was based on the advice of the television match official, who saw a punch where everyone else in the ground saw a harmless hand-off.
Griquas, suffering a sixth straight loss after shocking Sharks in the opening round, missed many tackles and the field kicking of fly-half Francois Brummer was woeful.
Right-wing Nico Scheepers converted his try, which set the visitors up for a 10-6 half-time lead, and Brummer and full-back Gouws Prinsloo kicked a penalty each.
Sharks host Cheetahs Saturday in a clash of the second and third-place teams, followed by a Highveld derby between Lions and Bulls in Johannesburg.