The men from Johannesburg topped the log with five wins and a draw from their six league games and beat the Cell C Sharks by 59-18 in their semi-final two weeks ago to progress to the final.
DHL WP finished the season in second place on the log with four wins and two draws before beating the Vodacom Bulls by 42-17 in the second semi-final to book their place in the final at Emirates Airline Park.
The visitors outscored the hosts by four tries to three, but their discipline let them down and this allowed Jurich Claasens (flyhalf), the top points’ scorer in the competition, to slot five penalty goals in a match that saw the Capetonians fight back from 19-9 down at the break to take it down to the wire.
Claasens also converted all three the Lions’ tries for a personal contribution of 21 points, while their tries were scored by loose forwards Jarrod Cairns and Ruan Venter, as well as Boldwin Hansen (left wing).
DHL WP’s four tries came from a brace by hooker Keagan Blanckenberg, Romauld Ntumba (flanker) and Lukhanyo Vokozela (replacement hooker), while Junior Springbok flyhalf Sacha Mngomezulu converted three and added three penalty goals.
The kicking boots of Claasens and Mngomezulu dominated proceedings early as the two opposing flyhalves kicked six penalty goals between them in the first half, with the Lions leading 12-9.
However, a converted try just before the break, by Cairns gave the hosts a 10-point cushion at the end of the first half.
DHL WP hit back with two tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half though, by Ntumba and Blanckenberg – one of which was converted by Mngomezulu – to take a 21-19 lead.
When Blanckenberg went over for his second try in the 64th minute and Mngomezulu added the extras, they were seemingly in control of the match at 28-19, with over 10 minutes to go.
Claasens’ fifth penalty goal shrunk the Capetonians’ lead to six points and set up a nail-biting final 10 minutes.
Venter and Hansen crossed in the 72nd and 75th minutes to restore the hosts’ lead to 36-28 and although Vokozela went over right at the death with two minutes left, the Lions’ eight-point gap was just too big for the visitors to close.
Lions 36 (19) – Tries: Jarrod Cairns, Ruan Venter, Boldwin Hansen. Conversions: Jurich Claasens (3). Penalty goals: Claasens.
DHL Western Province 35 (9) – Tries: Keagan Blanckenberg (2), Romauld Ntumba, Lukhanyo Vokozela. Conversions: Sacha Mngomezulu (3). Penalty goals: Mngomezulu (3).