Pirates were a transformed side from the one that had lost their previous two league matches as they triumphed 3-1 against lethargic Chiefs before an 80,000-plus crowd in Soweto. Johannesburg-based Wits began the weekend as leaders but, after being held 0-0 at home by Bloemfontein Celtic, surrendered top spot to Mamelodi Sundowns, who trounced bottom club Maritzburg United 3-0 in Pretoria.
Despite winning, Pirates remain in the bottom half, just three points above the danger zone. Pirates, who face Etoile Sahel of Tunisia during November in the two-leg CAF Confederation Cup final, took the initiative from the kick-off as another episode in a 45-year rivalry with Chiefs unfolded.
A 366-minute league goal drought by Pirates ended when Senegalese Issa Sarr volleyed a partial clearance by Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune into the net. Chiefs scored the equaliser just before half-time when unmarked Eric Mathoho headed powerfully into the net at the far post from a free-kick.
Another headed goal by a centre-back, Ayanda Gcaba, put Pirates back in front on 55 minutes and Thamsanqa Gabuza tapped in a low cross seven minutes from time. Victory eased mounting public and media pressure on Buccaneers' coach Eric Tinkler.
"The boys were very good at applying pressure and moving swiftly from defence to attack," the 1996 South Africa CAF Cup of Nations-winning midfielder. "We kept catching Chiefs on the counterattack and could have scored more goals. Our aim is to maintain this momentum."
Steve Komphela, a former national team captain who was coaching Chiefs for the first time in a Soweto derby, said: "Pirates were more energetic and exposed us at setpieces." The clubs meet again at Soccer City stadium next weekend in a South African League Cup semi-final.