Cheetahs fightback stuns Southern Kings as both bid Super Rugby farewell
The Cheetahs scored two tries in as many minutes to claim a dramatic 21-20 victory over the Southern Kings in the final Super Rugby game for both teams.
The Kings and Cheetahs are the two South African teams to be removed from the competition as part of a restructure, with one Australia-based franchise - either Melbourne Rebels or Western Force - set to follow them.
The two clubs are poised to be confirmed as members of the Pro12 next week, but they bowed out of Super Rugby with a thrilling finish in wet conditions at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday.
Hosts the Kings appeared set to take the spoils when they led 20-6 midway through the second half, but Clinton Swart and Raymond Rhule crossed in short order before Niel Marais slotted over the decisive penalty five minutes from time.
The Kings led 12-3 at the break, Makazole Mapimpi and Wandile Mjekevu going over to give them command, with Fred Zeilinga's penalty all the Cheetahs could muster in response.
Giant Mtyanda increased their advantage four minutes after the restart before Zeilinga stopped the run of unanswered points at 17 with his second three-pointer.
But it was fly-half Zeilinga's withdrawal in favour of Marais that tilted the game in the Cheetahs' favour. Marais was more of a threat with ball in hand and 12 minutes from time the visitors had hope when Swart went over in the corner.
Rhule then finished off a well-worked move involving captain Francois Venter, who produced an impressive display, before the boot of Marais ensured the Cheetahs exit Super Rugby on a high.