The Waratahs scraped past the Sunwolves 30-31 in a free-flowing encounter at the Prince Chichibunomiya Memorial Stadium, Tokyo.
Human metronome Hayden Parker sliced a drop goal wide in the dying seconds that would have given the Sunwolves another famous victory, but the Waratahs held on for the win.
It is never dull when these two teams meet, averaging 84 points per game in their three previous Super Rugby games.
Israel Folau became Australia’s top Super Rugby try-scorer with 58 when he crossed for his second try, in the first half. It was, however, the Sunwolves who led by three at the break.
Daryl Gibson’s men regrouped after the interval, scoring through the imperious Jack Dempsey and being awarded a penalty try, went ahead by two scores in the final quarter.
The Waratahs outscored the Sunwolves five tries to three, but it was Parker’s boot, as ever, that kept the home team in the contest.
South African-born winger Gerhard van den Heever also grabbed a brace as the hosts fought back to make it a one-point ball-game.
Video Highlights: Sunwolves versus Waratahs
The games between these two never fail to produce tries, lots of them and it delivered once again.
Semisi Masirew made a superb try-saving tackle on Curtis Rona in the left-hand corner, minutes after kickoff.
Ryoto Nakamura intercepted Rob Simmons’ stray pass and sprinted into the Waratahs’ half.
He started to run out of gas, but staying composed, he waited for support and found Van den Heever.
Within a few minutes, it was 7-all after Bernard Foley converted Kurtley Beale’s walk-over. The Wallaby, thanks to a disastrous Shane Gate’s kick, was gifted a score.
A massive scrum by the Sunwolves’ pack led to and lineout and a penalty, which the human metronome Hayden Parker did not miss.
The home team’s pack won another tighthead and scrum-penalty, putting to rest the beasting by the Sharks, last weekend.
But it was Folau, Alex Newsome and Beale, who combined after a slick backline move, that put the visitors in front.
Folau becomes Australia’s top Super Rugby try-scorer
The mercurial fullback passed the great Joe Roff as the top Australian try-scorer in Super Rugby with a well-crafted 58th five-pointer.
He combined with Karmichael Hunt before bursting away down the sideline and shrugging off Japanese defenders, on the half-hour mark.
Sekope Kepu was pinged for offsides, and Parker reduced the deficit to 13-17. Kepu’s knock-on led to Tom Rowe finishing off a back-and-forth series of plays from the prop’s error.
The lock-forward rumbled through a gap, taking Nakamura’s deft offload to the house.
Parker’s conversion gave the hosts a narrow but deserved three-point halftime advantage.
Waratahs fight back after the break
The second-half started as the first ended. Parker added another penalty, but The Tahs took the lead through Dempsey – with the help of Hooper – and foley’s conversion.
Tony Brown’s charges began to lose control, they were conceding penalties at an alarming rate. It prompted referee AJ Jacobs to talk to the Sunwolves’ skipper.
Mr Jacobs’ advice was not headed. Luke Thompson brought down the driving maul and the ref awarded a penalty try.
Thompson was sin-binned for his indiscretion, leaving his side two-scores behind and playing with 14 men going into the latter stages
Time was running out; the home side needed something special. It came in the form of an Eddie Jones special from Japan’s famous 2015 Rugby World Cup win over the Springboks.
Van den Heever combined with his captain, running a good angle at speed. He collected Parker’s inside pop-pass and sped to the try line
The seconds were ticking down, the Sunwolves trailed by one. They worked their way back into the Aussies’ 22 and set up for the drop-goal.
Parker sat back in the pocket, and under pressure from Hunt, attempted a left-footed drop-kick.
The kick sailed wide. Atsushi Sakate caught the ball and thought he’d scored, but he was offside because Hunt didn’t touch the ball.
It was a valiant effort, but ultimately, not enough.
Final score: Sunwolves 30 (20) Waratahs 31 (17)
Tries – Van den Heever (2), Rowe
Pen – Parker (3)
Con – Parker (3)
Cards – Thompson (Yellow, 63rd’)
Tries – Beale, Folau (2), Dempsey, Penalty try
Con – Foley (2)
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 1: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 2: Shuhei Kubo
TMO: Minoru Fuji
Sunwolves: 15 Jason Emery, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Shane Gates, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 7 Ed Quirk, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Tom Rowe, 4 Luke Thompson, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Craig Millar (captain).
Relacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Awe Helu, 20 James Moore, 21 Keisuke Uchida, 22 Michael Little, 23 Rikiya Matsuda.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Karmichael Hunt, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Rory O’Connor, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Lachlan Swinton, 20 Will Miller, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Mack Mason, 23 Cam Clark/Adam Ashley-Cooper.