Stellenbosch - The Pampas XV raced to an early 28-3 lead against the Free State XV, but were made to work hard in order to hold out the visiting team to record a 38-32 victory on Saturday.
The Pampas were heavily penalised in the opening stages of the game and flyhalf Elgar Watts opened the scoring with a penalty after captain Mariano Galarza was sent to the sin-bin by referee Francois Pretorious.
Despite being reduced to 14 men the Pampas managed to create with winger Manuel Montero going over untouched.
Flyhalf Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias kicked the conversion and the Pampas led 7-3 after nearly a quarter of the match.
A lovely inside pass from scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli allowed lock Rodrigo Bruno to dive over under the posts with Santiago Gonzalez adding the extras.
Cubelli was on the receiving end of a try when Santiago Gonzalez made a break through the Free State midfield to set the scrumhalf away.
A third conversion by Santiago Gonzalez made the score 21-3 to the Pampas.
The two Pampas wings combined well after Montero broke free to allow Facundo Barrea to go over for his first try of the afternoon.
The conversion by Santiago Gonzalez gave the Pampas a healthy 28-3 lead with virtually no time left in the half.
Free State struck back with a vital try through flank Boom Prinsloo, who went over after a driving maul.
Watts kicked the conversion to make the half-time score 28-10 to the Pampas.
Free State were a completely different side after halftime and Prinsloo was the catalyst.
After a period of extended dominance in the scrums Prinsloo burrowed over for his second try and Watts added the conversion to make it 28-17 to the Pampas.
After a yellow card to reserve scrumhalf Leonardo Senatore, the Pampas were again down to 14 men. Free State made the advantage count and Prinsloo completed his hat-trick by going over the whitewash with Watts missing the conversion.
Watts atoned for his miss by creating space for winger Sethu Tom after a beautiful long-pass from prop Charles Marais. The conversion drifted just wide and Free State trailed 28-27 with 63 minutes gone in the game.
This prodded the Pampas back into action and after an exquisite grubber kick by Santiago Gonzalez it was Barrea who collected the kick to score and give the Pampas breathing space.
Santiago Gonzalez kicked his fifth conversion of the afternoon to make it 35-27 with 15 minutes left.
He then added a further penalty, and despite missing another penalty a few minutes later it was enough to win the game for the Pampas.
Center Joubert Engelbrecht collected a grubber from Watts to score a consolation try and give Free State a losing bonus.
The Pampas move to 21 log points, while Free-State now sit on 15 log points, with a final-round clash against Western Province being make-or-break.
Tries: Manuel Montero, Rodrigo Bruno, Toms Cubelli, Facundo Barrea (2)
Conversions: Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias (5)
Penalties: Gonzalez Iglesias
Free State XV:
Tries: Boom Prinsloo (3), Sethu Tom, Joubert Engelbrecht
Conversions: Elgar Watts (2)