The Sunwolves beat the Bulls 42-37 in a see-sawing thriller at a humid National Stadium in Singapore.
Rahboni Warren Vosayako scored a late try to seal another famous victory over the Bulls, and the Sunwolves’ third home win on the bounce.
The 10-try stunner saw the lead change four times after the Sunwolves raced to a 14-nil 20-minute lead.
The three-times champions hit back with three tries and a Handre Pollard penalty to lead by 10, early in the second-half.
But the Sunwolves did not crumble, instead, they met the challenge with a treble of tries to secure their second win over their illustrious opponents.
It was all Sunwolves in the opening quarter.
Led by the industrious Willie Britz and the effervescent Michael Little, the home team led thanks to Hayden Parker and Keisuke Uchida’s tries.
Parker’s try came from Little’s midfield break and some quick-ball at the breakdown. Uchida switched play to the left, Little re-joined the line and played his flyhalf in the corner for the first try.
Uchida’s score came from a well-worked lineout move straight off the training ground.
He combined with hooker Jaba Bregvadze and tighthead prop Takuma Asahara, whose inside pass sent the No 9 away.
The Bulls were rattled. John Mitchell’s men needed to regroup, gather their thoughts and find a way back into the match.
Jesse Kriel charged down Gerhard van den Heever’s clearance, the ball bounced kindly and the Springbok centre was over for his first try.
Van den Heever was the culprit again. His wayward quick-throw bounced away from Uchida and into the arms of the grateful Kriel, who waltzed over the try-line.
Britz was sin-binned, and the Bulls scored through Pollard, who also converted his try and kicked a penalty.
Usually, the 10-point swing can lead to capitulation in this competition, but Tony Brown’s men did not wilt.
Masirewa took Parker’s inside ball and ghosted through a gap, drew the defender and sent Van den Heever away in the corner.
Britz’s card only cost three points, but a minute after the skipper returned, Pierre Schoeman crashed over after some wonderful interplay between the back and the forwards.
The prop took Kriel’s inside pass and made a bee-line for the whitewash.
Pollard’s conversion made it another 10-point game.
Still, the Sunwolves could not be stopped. They threw everything at their opponents.
It was end-to-end.
Britz picked up a stray pass and beat Embrose Papier to the try-line. Little’s run set up the penalty and the South African finished off with style.
The Bulls were starting to tire. They also went away from there ‘score at every opportunity’ game-plan they employed in the first half of the season.
Instead of kicking to the corner and powering over with their driving maul, they took the points, extending their lead to six at 28-34.
This allowed the Sunwolves to stay within touching distance.
When the Japanese side needs something special, it often comes in the form of Britz, Parker or Little.
Little finished a sensational move. It came from inside the Sunwolves 22.
They went down the field with some great offloading, but it was a turnover that started the counter-attack which led to the centre’s deserved five-pointer.
His try and Parker’s conversion made it a one-point ball-game.
The Bulls searched for a winner, but could not find it.
The Sunwolves held strong after sustained pressure on their goal-line.
They defended wave after wave of pick-and-drives before conceding a penalty.
Brown’s men were lucky, too. You have to be to win these games.
Andre Warner, on for Papier, darted over to score but lost control when he attempted to ground the ball.
It proved to be costly because instead of seven, the visitors settled for three, again.
This allowed the home team one last chance to snatch another win.
With less than five minutes remaining, they marched up the field, controlling the ball, and the clock.
Vosayako was tackled, but not held, got up and dived over under the posts.
Sunwolves versus Bulls video highlights.
Final score: Sunwolves 42 (14) Bulls 37 (21)
Tries – Parker, Uchida, Van den Heever, Britz, Little, Vosayako
Con – Parker (6)
Cards – Britz (Yellow, 38′)
Tries – Kriel (2), Pollard, Schoeman
Pen – Pollard (3)
Con – Pollard (4)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Shuhei Kubo
Assistant Ref 2: Tasuku Kawahara
TMO: Minoru Fuji
Sunwolves: 15 Gerhard van den Heever, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Michael Little, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 7 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 6 Willem Britz (captain), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 James Moore, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Craig Millar.
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Shintaro Ishihara, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Rahboni Warren Vosayako, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryoto Nakamura.
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Morné Smith, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Dries Swanepoel.