The skill and conditioning of both sides were on display in the high-octane and high-scoring affair, in which the sides scored six tries apiece.
The teams maintained an incredibly high pace for the full 80 minutes of the action-packed clash, which saw four tries being scored in the first quarter, three in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth on a perfect afternoon for running rugby.
The Capetonians led the dance and threatened to pull away on a number of occasions, but the never-say-day attitude of the Lowvelders saw them stay in the hunt and salvage a draw with a final converted try in the 78th minute.
It took just two minutes for the opening try, Edwill van der Merwe showing explosive speed down the left touchline as DHL Western Province struck first, with Tim Swiel on song with the conversion.
The New Nation Pumas replied in kind after multiple phases as Eddie Fouché sold a dummy and strolled in for a try he converted to level the scores after 11 minutes.
Not to be outdone, Swiel spotted space at the back and executed a perfectly weighted chip for Dan du Plessis to collect and dot down in the right-hand corner, where Seabelo Senatla showed good strength to go over moments later for the hosts’ third try after just 17 minutes. It was a brilliant pass by Warrick Gelant, who was magnificent in his first start for DHL Western Province this season, that created space out wide for the wing, who finished off well.
Needing to reply, the men in pink went to their driving maul and it paid dividends as evergreen Simon Westraadt went over. Fouché’s conversion closed the gap to 19-14.
The speed and synergy of DHL Western Province saw them reclaim the momentum right away with the big and powerful Sazi Sandi stretching over to score the bonus-point try, which Swiel converted.
A breathless first half came to a close with Daniel Maartens burrowing over for a timely five-pointer that clawed the New Nation Pumas back to 26-19.
The Capetonians got off to a fast start in the second half as well and would’ve been in for their fifth if not for excellent defensive hustle from Fouché. It proved to be a temporary stopgap, though, as a flying Senatla - who went on to be named Champion of the Match - started and finished a fantastic counter-attack in the 46th minute.
The New Nation Pumas continued their trend of hitting back as they smashed the hosts off their ball at a 5m scrum and flexed their muscles further, first Matt More running hard against his former team and then Shane Kirkwood crashing over for the bonus-point score. Fouché was on target with the conversion and once again, it was a seven-point game at 33-26.
The impressive Swiel sparked another try, this time feeding Tristan Leyds with a clever inside pass before adding the extras in the 67th minute. Hard-working centre Erich Cronjé, who’d been held up over the line earlier, got his try as he added his weight to yet another driving maul before spinning off and over the whitewash, with Fouché’s conversion cutting the deficit to seven once again.
A final injection of inspiration came off the bench as super-sub Eduan Swart made two barnstorming runs in quick succession to smash over the line. Fouché coolly slotted the conversion to tie things up and that’s how it ended despite a finish push by DHL Western Province.
DHL Western Province 40 (26) – Tries: Edwill van der Merwe, Dan du Plessis, Seabelo Senatla (2), Sazi Sandi, Tristan Leyds. Conversions: Tim Swiel (5).
New Nation Pumas 40 (19) – Tries: Eddie Fouché, Simon Westraadt, Daniel Maartens, Shane Kirkwood, Erich Cronjé, Eduan Swart. Conversions: Fouché (5).