Province were leading comfortably at halftime with the score at 17-3, having dotted down three times in the opening 40 minutes.
But poor discipline from the home side and the arrival of replacement flyhalf Shaun Reynolds for the Lions saw the visitors engineer a turnaround after the break.
Lions fullback Sylvian Mahuza was another catalyst as he scored two tries within eight minutes to get his team back into the match, and then it was Reynolds who split open the Province defence off a five-metre scrum after Hermanus’ clearance kick was charged-down in the in-goal area.
WP flyhalf Scott van Breda and inside centre Daniel du Plessis each thought the other was going to tackle Reynolds, and neither ended up doing so, which saw Reynolds go over the whitewash under the posts and level the scores at 24-24 with six minutes left.
But Reynolds turned from hero to villain with 120 seconds left on the clock when he dropped a regulation pass about 15 metres from his own line, and Province put the shove on at the resultant scrum to win the decisive penalty right in front, which Hermanus duly knocked over.
Province battled to get going early on in the game as their handling let them down. They were in a number of promising positions on attack, but a knock-on or the last pass didn’t go to hand.
The forwards had a chance within the first five minutes when they set up a maul five metres from the Lions’ line, but the drive was stopped by the Johannesburg team and then WP lost the ball in contact as well.
But a few minutes later, left wing Sibahle Maxwane opened the scoring when he pounced on a loose pass by the Lions to claim an intercept close to their line after Province had lost possession once more.
Hermanus was the one WP back who looked like he wanted to make something happen, and it was his sprint down the left that cut open the Lions defence. The teenager showed off his ball-skills as well as he offloaded brilliantly in the tackle to flyhalf Van Breda around the Lions 22 with just the last defender to beat.
But he couldn’t sidestep to score, and eventually just fell into the tackle a few metres short, and WP turned the ball over at the ensuing breakdown.
The Province forwards then showed the backs how to finish when a clever lineout move five metres out saw lock and captain Chris van Zyl catch the ball and feed flank Luke Stringer, who went down the blindside and put hooker Mike Willemse over almost untouched.
Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff kicked an early penalty, but missed another one badly from fairly much in front about 40 metres out, and it meant that WP retained their 10-3 lead after a half an hour’s play.
Province weren’t done yet, though, as they finally found some cohesion on attack to put together a number of phases. But the move seemed to die down on the 22 before scrumhalf Justin Phillips ran across the field to create space and found experienced centre Tim Whitehead, who retained his composure to pass the ball down the line, with Khanyo Ngcukana rounding off.
After Mahuza scored the Lions’ first try following a five-metre lineout maul to reduce the deficit to 17-10 early in the second half, WP hooker Willemse got his second of the match from the subsequent restart when the ball popped out of the ruck with the Lions in possession, and Van Zyl picked it up and put Willemse away.
Just after halftime, Lions scrumhalf Ricky Schroeder was yellow-carded by referee Rasta Rasivhenge for tripping Hermanus.
But after Willemse’s second five-pointer, Hermanus was then sent to the cooler by Rasivhenge for back-chatting.
WP coach John Dobson will be relieved that his team held out for the win in the end, but will know that they will have to improve significantly if they hope to beat the Sharks XV in Durban next weekend.
Western Province – Tries: Sibahle Maxwane, Mike Willemse (2), Khanyo Ngcukana. Conversions: Grant Hermanus (2). Penalty: Hermanus (1).
Golden Lions – Tries: Sylvian Mahuza (2), Shaun Reynolds. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (1), Reynolds (2). Penalty: Boshoff (1).
Original source: Hermanus wins it for WP