Warren Whiteley led from the front on his return from injury as the Lions ignored the off the park issues in the team to beat the Chiefs 17-23 in a scintillating clash in Hamilton on Friday.
The Lions arrived at the stadium without Courtnall Skosan and Swys de Bruin who both returned to South Africa for personal reasons while defence coach Joey Mongalo also returned for an internal disciplinary hearing after being found guilty by an Australian court of indecent assault.
Ivan van Rooyen took charge and made an early prematch change as Malcolm Marx and Elton Jantjies came into the starting line up with jantjies starting at inside centre.
The Lions started the first half well as they won some key penalties which allowed Elton Jantjies the chance to slot two penalties and give the away side a 0-6 lead.
The Lions front row had the better of the Chiefs in the early stages and a brilliant scrum won the Lions a penalty which culminated in Carlu Sadie diving over off the back of the line-out for the first try of the night. Jantjies added the extras as the Lions asserted their dominance on the game.
On the brink of halftime, Warren Whiteley put through a brilliant kick through which Aphiwe Dyantyi chased down superbly to gather and dive under the posts as Jantjies converted to give the away side the lead at the break.
The Lions started the second half well by slowly and surely the Chiefs grew into the game. Fatigue appeared to be setting in for the Lions after a big defensive effort all night as Sean Wainui dove over for a try after a brilliant break from Brad Weber.
The Chiefs hit again immediately as Wainui made an initial break and the Chiefs just continued with the momentum before Nepo Laulala got over. Marty McKenzie missed the conversion again with the game in the balance at 10-20 with less than 20 minutes to go.
A scrappy passage of play saw Chiefs strike and give themselves a late chance as Tumua Manu went over and McKenzie converted.
With two minutes to go, Schoeman won an important turnover before the Lions gained a penalty advantage which allowed Jantjies the chance to lineup a drop goal which he nailed. The Lions regathered the restart before kicking out to cap off a brilliant 17-23 win in Hamilton.
It was a brave performance from both teams with the difference in the boot of Jantjies.
Rassie Erasmus will be smiling as Springboks Whiteley, Dyantyi, Marx and Whiteley all recorded strong outings while Sadie would have definitely caught the Springbok coaches eye with a terrific performance.