Johannesburg - The Golden Lions held off a late Griffons fight back as they clung on for an enthralling 40-37 (half-time 19-17) win in their North Section Vodacom Cup clash at the Bill Jardine Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Lions ran in six tries to the five of their opponents in an entertaining display in which both sides played their part.
However, it was the Lions who took the spoils, as they cruised up to second place in the North Section standings - three points adrift of the table-topping Pumas.
Despite taking two bonus points from the game, the Griffons remain second from bottom, with the playoff places now all but out of their reach.
It was the home side who drew first blood courtesy of a sixth-minute try from eighth-man Ruaan Lerm, but Martin Sithole's converted try 10 minutes later saw the Griffons edge ahead by 7-5.
Both sides then exchanged punches, as wing JR Esterhuizen's try in the 31st minute was immediately cancelled out by Nicky Steyn's first score of the afternoon.
With two minutes remaining in the first half, Thabo Mabuza crashed over the chalk to put his team ahead once again, but Louis Strydom's penalty on the stroke of half time ensured that the Griffons trailed by just two points at the interval.
Strydom then put his side ahead with a second penalty just three minutes into the second stanza, but it was to precede a dominant passage of play for the Lions, as tries from Fanta Qinisile, Lourens Erasmus and a second for Lerm in the space of 13 minutes took the hosts to a seemingly unassailable 40-20 lead.
But the spirited Griffons outfit clawed their way back into the match through a try for flanker Wilmar Groenewald and a second for Steyn with five minutes remaining.
However, substitute Franna du Toit had been unsuccessful with both conversion attempts, and it proved to be costly, as Sithole's second try of the day in injury time saw them fall just three points short of the Lions, with the extra bonus point providing scant consolation.
Golden Lions - Tries: Ruaan Lerm (2), JR Esterhuizen, Thabo Mabuza, Fanta Qinisile, Lourens Erasmus; Conversions: Willie du Plessis (5)
Griffons - Tries: Martin Sithole (2), Nicky Steyn (2), Wilmar Groenewald; Conversions: Louis Strydom (2), Franna du Toit; Penalties: Louis Strydom (2)