The Lions edged closer to returning to Super Rugby in 2014 when they beat the Southern Kings 19-26 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
The match is the first of two Promotion/ Relegation matches between the teams and the combined winner of both matches will win a place in next year's Super Rugby tournament.
The matches are being played for bonus points and points differential so the Lions took four points from the match and the Kings took a losing bonus point.
The second match will be played next weekend in Johannesburg which is home for the Lions so they will have an advantage.
The difference came down to a first half intercept try by Stokkies Hanekom in the dying moments of the first half.
The Lions led 14-19 at half time after Hanekom's dying moments of the first half to give his team a 19-14
The Lions extended their lead to 12 points in the second half with another try by Hanekom and looked to be on their way to a comfortable victory.
However a a yellow card to centre Dylan Des Fountain in the 68th minute ensured that the Lions had a tense finish as the Kings came storming back when replacement lock Steven Sykes powered over the line for their second try.
Replacement flyhalf George Whitehead missed the conversion, but, in the end, it proved inconsequential because the Lions did an excellent job of holding the home side at bay for the rest of the game.
The Kings losing point from the game will be little consolation as they now look ahead to a tough away fixture next weekend.
The Lions were solid through most of the match and their good defence frustrated a number of attacking opportunities enjoyed by the Kings.
Besides Hanekom's two tries, flyhalf Jantjies had a good night with the boot, slotting four penalties and two conversions for a personal contribution of 16 points.
The first half was an evenly fought affair, with the sides trading several penalties before the Kings eventually cracked the visitors' defence with a well executed cross-kick by flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis after a five-metre lineout.
With Marcello Sampson standing wide on the left, the Kings flyhalf's accurate kick landed in his hands and he dived over for the first try of the match to put his team back in the lead at 14-12.
But just as the Kings were building up steam, Hanekom brought them crashing down, when he intercepted inside his own half to race through to score under the posts.
Earlier, the teams traded penalties, with Jantjies slotting four for the Lions and Catrakilis knocking over three for the Kings.
Catrakilis could miss the second match as he was forced to leave the field in the 57th minute holding his hand and looked to be in some discomfort.
More to follow.
Final Score Kings 19 (14) Lions 26 (19)
Tries - M. Sampson, S Sykes
Pen - D. Catrakilis 3
Tries - S. Hanekom 2
Pen - E.Jantjies 4
Con - E.Jantjies 2
Cards - D. des Fountain (yellow 68th min)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Ref 1:Jason Jaftha (South Africa),
Assistant Ref 2:Sindile Mayende (South Africa)
TMO : Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
15. SP Marais,14. Hadleigh Parkes,13. Ronnie Cooke (Vice Captain),12. Shane Gates,11. Marcello Sampson,10. Demetri Catrakilis,9. Shaun Venter,8. Jacques Engelbrecht,7. Wimpie van der Walt,6. Cornell du Preez,5. David Bulbring,4. Darron Nell (Captain),3. Kevin Buys,2. Bandise Maku,1. Schalk Ferreira
Replacements:16. Charl du Plessis,17. Hannes Franklin,18. Steven Sykes,19. Devin Oosthuizen,20. Nicolas Vergallo,21. George Whitehead,22. Waylon Murray
15. Ruan Combrinck , 14. Deon van Rensburg , 13. Stokkies Hanekom , 12. Dylan des Fountain , 11. Anthony Volmink , 10. Elton Jantjies , 9. Michael Bondesio , 8. Warren Whiteley , 7. Derick Minnie , 6. Jaco Kriel , 5. Franco van der Merwe , 4. Hendrik Roodt , 3. Julian Redelinghuys , 2. Martin Bezuidenhout , 1. JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements : 16. Robbie Coetzee , 17. Ruan Dreyer , 18. Willie Britz , 19. Warwick Tecklenburg , 20. Ross Cronje , 21. Marnitz Boshoff , 22. Chrysander Botha