The surprising omission of Darren Keet caught everyone by surprise, while Thulani Hlatshwayo slotted back in the Wits defence after returning from suspension. Wayne Sandilands returned in goal for Pirates after a facial injury, with Thamsanqa Gabuza handed his first start since August.
The Students launched the first attack of the afternoon, but after finding good space in the box, Keegan Ritchie failed to cap off the move with a wayward finish after five minutes.
With Wits asking all the questions, Sifiso Hlanti’s free-kick from outside the box whispered narrowly wide at the midway point.
Pirates finally cut off the shackles and instigated their first attack just before the halftime break after Gabuza dragged an inviting opportunity inches wide of the upright.
From the interval, the pace of the game died down a little bit with both sides failing to open up each other.
Wits introduced the game’s first change on 65 minutes, with Mhango making way for Namibian Deon Hotto.
Three minutes later, Terrence Dzvukamanja looked to seal the victory but his effort grasped the outside post.
Pirates revived their offensive model, and brought in Thabo Qalinge for Gabuza in the final minutes of the match.
The Buccaneers sealed the points in the dying minutes, as Ritchie headed Luvuyo Memela’s free-kick to his own net, as the visitors move to 44 points tied with Mamelodi Sundowns at the top.
Wits: Goss, Hlatshwayo, Mkhwanazi, Mere, Hlanti. Monare, Alexander, Dzvukumanja, Ritchie, Mhango, Motupa.
Subs: Keet, Nonyane, Kumalo, Pelembe, Hotto, Murray, Majoro.
Pirates: Sandilands, Jele, Ndengane, Maela, Dube, Motshwari, Nyatama, Memela, Shonga, Mulenga, Gabuza.
Subs: Mpontshane, Munetsi, Mabaso, Mako, Mobara, Qalinge, Makola.