The Southern Kings earned their first victory in Super Rugby this season by beating the Sunwolves 33-28 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Both teams scored four tries each and the difference came down to penalty kicks and conversions.
The Kings had a three point advantage at 26-23 for most of the second half but they were forced to spend most of that time in their half defending.
The Kings scored a late try which gave them some breathing space but a minute later the Sunwolves put the pressure back on with a try of their own.
Almost half of the second half was spent in the Southern Kings 22 but they only conceded three points until the final minute when they let the final try slip through.
The home team opened the scoring in the fourth minute of the match when big lock Steven Sykes barged over the line. Kings flyhalf Louis Fouche then easily slotted the conversion.
The Sunwolves hit back with a penalty six minutes later after Stefan Willemse was pinned for not rolling away at the breakdown. Sunwolves flyhalf Tusi Pisi made sure of the three points from the kicking tee.
However, the Kings would score a second try in the 18th minute when Malcolm Jaer crossed the line after another top pass by their in-form centre Shane Gates. The visitors, though, returned the compliment eight minutes later when Pisi found a gap and ran straight through the Kings defence.
The Kings hit back with a Fouche penalty in the 31st minute, before Gates, who had set up a couple of earlier chances for the home side, rounded off a long-range try to give the Kings an eight point lead.
But that lead was soon brought down to three points after Tim Bond scored a try with a brilliant run shortly before the break.
The second half was a lot more sedate, with both teams losing possession at crucial times of their attack.
The Sunwolves drew level in the 54th minute via a Pisi penalty, but Kings No 10 Fouche converted another two penalties in the 59th and 61st minutes respectively to keep the home side’s noses in front at 26-23.
The team from Japan did most of the attacking in the second half, but the Eastern Cape team managed to survive their attacks. But all the drama of the second came in three minutes of madness at the end of the second half.
Replacement flyhalf Elgar Watts scored a crucial try for a Kings after they forced a tighthead on the Sunwolves’ line in the 78th minute. Fouche converted the try to make it 33-23.
However, the Sunwolves hit back almost immediately when Akihito Yamada rounded off a great team try to make it a five-point game with only seconds left on the clock. But the Kings held on in the end for an historic win.
The Kings take four points from the victory and will host the Bulls next week while the Sunwolves earn a losing bonus point and will play the Stormers in Cape Town next week.
Final Score Southern Kings 33 (23) Sunwolves 28 (20)
Tries – S.Sykes, M.Jaer, S.Gates. E.Watts
Pen – L.Fouche 3
Con – L. Fouche 2
Tries – S.Horie, T.Pisi, T.Bond, A. Yamada
Pen – T.Pisi 2
Con – T.Pisi
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 1:Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Ref 2:Rodney Bonaparte
TMO : Christie du Preez
15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Siyanda Grey, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sti Sithole
Replacements : 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Jaco van Tonder
1-Keita Inagaki, 2 -(c) Shota Horie, 3-Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 4-Hitoshi Ono, 5-Timothy Bond, 6-Liaki Moli ,7-Andrew Durutalo, 8-Ed Quirk, 9-Kaito Shigeno, 10-Tusi Pisi, 11-Akihito Yamada, 12-Yu Tamura, 13-Harumichi Tatekawa, 14-Viliami Lolohea, 15-Riaan Viljoen
Replacements: 16-Futoshi Mori, 17-Masataka Mikami , 18-Takuma Asahara , 19-Shinya Makabe ,20-Yoshiya Hosoda , 21-Tomas Leonardi , 22-Yuki Yatomi , 23-Mifiposeti Paea.