The Lions made Super Rugby history by beating the Chiefs 32-36 to earn their first ever Super Rugby victory over the Hamilton side in New Zealand.
The Lions victory against the Chiefs is their first in nine attempts on New Zealand soil and ends a run of five straight losses to the New Zealand side.
The Chiefs earned a losing bonus point from the match and although both teams scored four tries under the new rules neither team earns the try bonus point.
The Lions were worthy winners as they led for most of the match and only looked like they might lose for a brief period in the second half when the Chiefs scored two quick tries.
In the closing two minutes the Chiefs twice won penalties on the Lions line but were unable to convert them into points.
Being four points in arrears they were forced to go for lineout drives but they could not break the well-drilled Lions pack.
The Lions led for most of the game, apart from a brief period at the start of the match and in the middle of the second half as they made light of their arduous travel itinerary.
They are the first team in the expanded competition to head from South Africa to Japan where they beat newcomers the Sunwolves 26-13 last week before travelling south to New Zealand.
“I’m a bit speechless at the moment,” elated captain Warren Whitely said when the final whistle blew.
“They put so much pressure on us right until the death and we managed to pull it off in the end.”
But while forward power ensured the win, Whiteley said it was the backs who deserved the credit.
“We weren’t happy with last week’s performance, so we worked really hard on our string to spread it from side to side and I think it worked.”
With a superior pack and a lethal 8-9-10 combination of Whiteley, Faf de Klerk and Jantjies, the Lions dominated territory and fly-half Jantjies feasted on penalties as the Lions raced to a 19-11 lead by half-time.
Tom Sanders scored a try for the Chiefs and Malcolm Marx scored for the Lions with Jantjies’ three penalties and a conversion making the difference in the first half while the Chiefs’ extra points came from two Damian McKenzie penalties.
A Courtnall Skosan try early in the second half put the Lions out to a 24-11 lead before the Chiefs struck back to hit the front 25-24 when quick tries by McKenzie and James Lowe, both converted by McKenzie, produced 14 points in two minutes.
However, it was a short-lived advantage with the Lions adding a further two tries of their own by Whiteley and Ruan Combrinck.
With eight minutes remaining, the Chiefs reduced the deficit to four with a Brad Weber try converted by McKenzie but were unable to get any closer.
Next week in Round 3 the Lions play the Highlanders in Dunedin while the Chiefs kick off their tour of South Africa in Port Elizabeth with a match against the Southern Kings.
Final Score Chiefs 32 (11) Lions 36 (19)
Tries -T. Sanders, D.McKenzie, J.Lowe, B.Weber
Pen – D.McKenzie 2
Con – D.McKenzie 3
Cards – M.Graham (43rd min yellow)
Tries – M.Marx, C.Skosan, W.Whiteley, R. Combrinck
Pen – E.Jantjies 4
Con – E.Jantjies 2
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant Ref 1:Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2:Angus Mabey
TMO :Aaron Paterson
1. Pauliasi Manu (46) , 2. Rhys Marshall (23) , 3. Hiroshi Yamashita (1) , 4. Michael Allardice (8) , 5. Brodie Retallick (60) , 6. Tom Sanders (1) , 7. Sam Cane (66) co-captain , 8. Maama Vaipulu (11) , 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow (57) , 10. Aaron Cruden (57) co-captain , 11. James Lowe (22) , 12. Charlie Ngatai (32) , 13. Seta Tamanivalu (7) , 14. Latu Vaeno (1) , 15. Damian McKenzie (17)
Replacements:16. Nathan Harris (13) , 17. Mitchell Graham (12) , 18. Siate Tokolahi (18) , 19. Taleni Seu (1) , 20. Michael Leitch (13) , 21. Brad Weber (25) , 22. Anton Lienert-Brown (10) , 23. Glen Fisiiahi **
( ) = Chiefs caps in brackets
**denotes Super Rugby debutant
15 Andries Coetzee , 14.Ruan Combrinck , 13 Lionel Mapoe , 12 Harold Vorster , 11 Courtnal Skosan , 10 Elton Jantjies , 9 Faf de Klerk , 8 Warren Whiteley , 7 Warwick Tecklenburg , 6 Jaco Kriel , 5 Franco Mostert , 4 Andries Ferreira , 3 Julian Redelinghuys , 2 Malcolm Marx , 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Corné Fourie, Ruan Dreyer, Robert Kruger, Fabian Booysen, Jaco van der Walt, Howard Mnisi, Rohan Janse van Rensburg