DHL Western Province went down 26-20 in their SuperSport Rugby Challenge quarterfinal against Toyota Free State XV at the Green Point Track on Sunday.
It was a first-ever defeat in the competition for the defending champions, who had gone unbeaten over the last two seasons before falling just short in the play-off match, which was played in wet and windy conditions in Cape Town.
The visitors opened the scoring early on with a try from centre Carel Coetzee which put them 7-0 up once converted by his midfield partner Benhard Janse van Rensburg as the rain started to fall.
The Bloemfontein side had the wind at their backs in the first half and it was not long before they doubled their lead, with No.8 Jasper Wiese barging over.
DHL Western Province got into the game and on the scoreboard when fullback Grant Hermanus slotted his second penalty attempt from right in front of the poles, following some great interplay between forwards and backs whch took them within inches of the tryline.
Toyota Free State XV were down to 14 when replacement prop Abram Venter was shown a yellow card for foul play and DHL Western Province eventually took advantage as Dan Kriel found Juarno Augustus in some space and the big No.8 got the offload away to centre Dawid Brits who scored.
That meant that the visitors took a 14-10 advantage in the half-time break, with DHL Western Province set to play with the wind in the second half.
The home side took the lead for the first time in the match early in the second half, with flyhalf Tristan Leyds showing some serious pace to score in the corner.
However, Toyota Free State XV were back in front with a try from centre Janse van Rensburg which put them 19-17 up.
The lead changed hands again with a Hermanus penalty, which gave DHL Western Province a slender 20-19 advantage heading into the final 20 minutes.
The Free State side took the lead back as Coetzee got over for his second try and despite DHL Western Province pressing hard late on for the winning try, the visitors were able to hold on for victory.
For DHL WP:
Tries: Brits, Leyds
Cons: Hermanus 2
Pens: Hermanus 2
For Toyota Free State XV:
Tries: Coetzee 2, Wiese, Janse van Rensburg
Cons: Janse van Rensburg 3
DHL Western Province: 15 Grant Hermanus, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Dawid Brits, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Tristan Leyds, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Marno Redelinghuys, 6 Luke Stringer (captain), 5 Johan du Toit, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 Neethling Fouche, 18 Steph de Wit, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Labib Kannemeyer, 22 Tiaan Swanepoel.
Toyota Free State XV: 15 Darren Adonis, 14 Francois Agenbach, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Carel Coetzee, 11 Vuyani Maqina, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Gerhardus Olivier, 6 Daniel Jordaan, 5 Dennis Visser, 4 Sibabalo Qoma, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Erich de Jager.
Replacements: 16 Josepg Dweba, 17 Abram Venter, 18 Gunther Janse van Vuuren, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Johannes Malan, 21 Ruan van Rensburg, 22 Ntokozo Vidima.