Morne Steyn kicked a late penalty as the Vodacom Bulls edged Edinburgh Rugby 33-31 in a dramatic climax in Pretoria.
With Darcy Graham scoring a hat-trick, Mike Blair’s side fought back from an early 15-0 deficit to lead 31-30 with 10 minutes remaining at Loftus Versfeld.
Steyn’s penalty in the last minute gave the hosts the advantage once again, but Edinburgh were to get one last chance after a dangerous tackle by Stravino Jacobs on Mark Bennett.
Henry Immelman was unable to take advantage from distance with what proved the final kick of the game.
Edinburgh started brightly, but Henry Pyrgos and Immelman both failed with drop-goal attempts inside the opening two minutes and the Bulls went ahead with a Chris Smith penalty.
Ill-discipline cost Edinburgh early on and Grant Gilchrist had a spell in the sin-bin. Short-range tries from Johan Grobbelaar and Elrich Louw gave the Bulls a healthy advantage.
Edinburgh responded as James Lang made a break down the left and the ball was worked further wide for Charlie Savala to touch down.
Bennett nailed a touchline conversion and further Edinburgh pressure paid off as Graham hit the ball at pace and arced around the defence for his first try. With Bennett again adding the extras, Edinburgh trailed just 15-14 at the interval.
The Bulls started the second period strongly and extended their advantage when Cornal Hendricks raced over out wide for another Smith-converted try after Ruan Nortje had been held up.
Edinburgh pulled another try back in fortuitous circumstances after a Bennett penalty attempt struck the upright. Graham was the first to react to the rebound and pounced for his second try.
A Smith penalty gave the Bulls more breathing space, but Graham cut the gap back to one again as he sped over after brilliant handling by Bill Mata and Immelman.
Edinburgh began to sense their chance, but the Bulls broke out after a long spell under pressure, with Jacobs stretching out to score.
Yet again Edinburgh were not finished and a slick move created the opening for Damien Hoyland to score. With Bennett converting, the visitors led for the first time.
Immelman missed a penalty chance to extend the lead, but Steyn made no mistake when he got the chance after an infringement at a maul.
The drama was not over, but Immelman could not punish Jacobs for his high shot on Bennett.
Kick-off 1:30 pm
jamie-ritchie. Blindeside Flanker
luke-crosbie. Openside Flanker
viliame-mata. Number 8
henry-pyrgos. Scrum Half
blair-kinghorn. Fly Half
james-lang. Inside Centre
mark-bennett. Outside Centre
darcy-graham. Right Wing
henry-immelman. Full Back