The Lions kicked off the 2014 Super Rugby season with a shock 20-21 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
A late drop goal with two minutes left on the clock from Marnitz Boshoff sealed the match for the Lions.
The Cheetahs outscored the Lions by two tries to none but they were unable to create any real space between themselves and the Lions who have been out of Super Rugby for almost a year and a half.
The Johannesburg Super Super Rugby franchise take four points from the match while the Cheetahs earn a losing bonus point.
The Cheetahs will be devastated with the result after dominating most of the play, exploiting the inexperienced side the Lions brought to the City of Roses.
Many of the visiting team's players earned their first Super Rugby cap against the Cheetahs, but it was the superior performance by Boshoff that pulled it through for the Lions.
The Cheetahs started at a frantic pace and had two kickable penalties inside the first five minutes.
Springbok fly half Johan Goosen however struggled with his boot and squandered both opportunities.
The Lions' defence held their own and progressed into the Cheetahs' half where Boshoff kicked a penalty after referee Craig Joubert reversed one awarded to the Cheetahs. Goosen levelled the scores with his third attempt.
The Cheetahs scored the first try of the 2014 competition after Springbok full back Willie le Roux broke through and handed off to winger Raymond Rhule to score in the corner. Goosen converted to give the hosts a comfortable lead after 20 minutes.
Boshoff kicked another couple of penalties shortly afterwards to reduce the halftime deficit to a single point at 10-9 to the hosts.
The second half started with a try to the Cheetahs after some good pressure on the visitors.
Winger Cornal Hendricks scored his first try in Super Rugby after Le Roux again played a vital role in the build up, and Goosen converted.
The Cheetahs' ill-discipline meant Boshoff reduced the deficit to just two points after the hosts' replacement flanker Jean Cook was yellow-carded for a late charge on Boshoff.
Replacement flyhalf Elgar Watts opened up the game with his penalty for the Cheetahs, but Boshoff again answered in kind five minutes from full time.
Boshoff then clinched the game for the visitors with his late drop goal.
Final Score Cheetahs 20 (10) Lions 21 (9)
Tries - R.Rhule, C.Hendricks
Pen - J.Goosen, E Watts
Con - J.Goosen 2
Cards - J. Cook
Pen - M. Boshoff 6
Drop - M.Boshoff
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Ref 1:TBC (South Africa),
Assistant Ref 2: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO:Johan Greeff (South Africa) with Oupa Wagner (South Africa) in training
Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Johann Sadie, Francois Venter, Raymond Rhule, Johan Goosen, Shaun Venter, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Maks van Dyk, Ligtoring Landman, Jean Cook, Sarel Pretorius, Elgar Watts, Rayno Benjamin.
15. Chrysander Botha , 14. Deon van Rensburg , 13. Lionel Mapoe , 12. Stefan Watermeyer , 11. Ruan Combrinck , 10. Marnitz Boshoff , 9. Faf de Klerk , 8. Warren Whiteley , 7. Derick Minnie , 6. Jaco Kriel , 5. Franco van der Merwe , 4. Franco Mostert , 3. Julian Redelinghuys , 2. Robbie Coetzee , 1. Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements : 16. Willie Wepener , 17. Jacques van Rooyen , 18. Ruan Dreyer , 19. Willie Britz , 20. Warwick Tecklenburg , 21.Ross Cronje, 22. Coenie van Wyk , 23. Alwyn Hollenbach