Johannesburg - The Golden Lions clawed back a 12-point deficit to beat the Sharks 33 - 29 in a Lions Challenge encounter at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
The hosts were awarded an early penalty try, converted by Marnitz Boshoff, before Riaan Viljoen and Dale Chadwick scored tries, both converted by Butch James to take the lead.
The Durban side then extended their lead with a further try from debutant Helmar Williams.
The teams walked into the half-time break with the visitors leading 19 - 7.
The second half was to be a much tighter affair as the Lions pressed home their early momentum at the beginning of the half, first being denied by the TMO, but finally being rewarded for their effort when Derick Minnie got over the line following another driving maul from the Lions.
Boshoff added the extras before Fred Zeilinga, on for James, missed from 30 yards out as Minnie was penalised at the ruck.
Zeilinga would rue his miss five minutes later as Ruan Combrinck managed to score a five-pointer after the Lions managed to turnover the Sharks scrum and use the possession effectively for Combrink to round off. Boshoff failed with his conversion attempt as the scores became deadlocked at 19-all.
However, following a poor clearance from the resulting kickoff, the Sharks strolled back into the lead when Jandré Marais barged over from close range to score. Zeilinga added the two points to put the Sharks into a 26-19 lead.
The try did not stop the Lions from mounting a surge towards the Sharks tryline as continued pressure and numerous penalties later, allowed Hendrik Roodt to squeeze in over the whitewash and awarded the try after a lengthy referral to the TMO. Boshoff tied the scores up once more at 26-all.
The Lions became the architects of their own downfall once more as Minnie was again penalised at the tackle, allowing Zeilinger to take the opportunity to put the Sharks back into the lead again.
The final few minutes were scrappy as the Lions desperately tried to wrestle possession back from the Sharks, who themselves were trying to clear their lines to keep the hosts at bay.
With just under three minutes left on the clock, the Lions were awarded a kickable penalty within the Sharks '22', but after much deliberation, they elected to kick for touch and set up one last driving maul.
The risk was to pay dividend almost immediately as CJ van der Linde darted over the line and behind the posts, after the Lions recycled possession from the maul.
Boshoff successfully struck the easy conversion between the posts to put the Lions into the lead for the very first time in the match, with only seconds left on the clock.
The Sharks then had one final opportunity to rescue the match in the dying embers, helped along by more ill-discipline from the Lions, but eventually the Lions held on for a commendable 33 - 29 win.
Lions - 33: Tries: penalty try, Derick Minnie, Ruan Combrinck, Hendrik Roodt, CJ van der Linde; Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff (4).
Sharks - 29: Tries: Riaan Viljoen, Dale Chadwick, Helmar Williams, Jandré Marais; Conversions: Butch James (2), Fred Zeilinga; Penalty: Fred Zeilinga.
15. Chrysander Botha, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Stokkies Hanekom, 12. Alwyn Hollenbach, 11. Anthony Volmink, 10. Marnitz Boshoff, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Willie Britz, 7. Derick Minnie, 6. Warwick Tecklenburg, 5. Hugo Kloppers, 4. Hendrik Roodt, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Francois du Toit, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg (captain)
Substitutes: 16. Robbie Coetzee, 17. CJ van der Linde, 18. Gavin Annandale, 19. Lambert Groenewald, 20. Michael Bondesio, 21. Dylan des Fountain, 22. Deon van Rensburg
15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Heimar Williams, 11. Sean Robinson, 10. Butch James, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Tera Mtembu, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Keegan Daniel (captain), 5. Jandre Marais, 4. Edwin Hewitt, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Dale Chadwick
Substitutes: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Brynard Stander, 19. Khaya Majola, 20. Cobus Reinach, 21. Fred Zeilinga, 22. Tyler Fisher