The Joburg outfit led 14-12 at halftime and proceeded to dominate possession and territory in the second half to clinch a massive result for them.
Stand-in captain Malcolm Marx (hooker), Kwagga Smith (No 8) and Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) were the standout players for the Highveld team. There were plenty of attacking intent from both sides, but the Emirates Lions will not have been be happy with the amount of handling errors they committed against the Kiwis.
Both teams scored five tries, but it was the accurate boot of Springbok flyhalf Jantjies that proved the difference in the end. The pivot succeeded with all five conversions and added an important penalty goal for a personal contribution of 13 points.
The Emirates Lions took a two-point advantage into the halftime break thanks to converted tries scored by Andries Coetzee (flank) and Smith. The visitors scored the match’s opening try through Sio Tomkinson and he was followed over the line by Tom Franklin.
The first stanza was characterised by a lot of big hits, open attacking play but also a lot of handling errors on both sides. The Highvelders scored the first try of the second half when Smith dotted down for his second. However, the Highlanders hit back with two quick tries through Jordan Hyland (right wing) and Matt Faddes (fullback) to regain the lead at 22-21.
Jantjies slotted the game’s first penalty goal in the 63rd minute to reclaim the lead for his team with the score at 24-22. They soon extended their lead to nine points when Shaun Reynolds (replacement back) finished a great team try.
However, they were unable to prevent Josh Ioane (flyhalf) from scoring the Highlanders’ fifth try just a few minutes later that reduced the score to 31-29.
The Emirates Lions then put the result beyond any doubt when they secured the winning points with a well-worked try on the stroke of fulltime with Courtnall Skosan (wing) going over for their fifth try of the game.
The deserved win enabled them to snap a losing run of three defeats to New Zealand opposition.
Emirates Lions 38 (14) - Tries: Andries Coetzee, Kwagga Smith (2), Shaun Reynolds, Courtnall Skosan. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (5). Penalty goal: Jantjies.
Highlanders 29 (12) - Tries: Sio Tomkinson, Thomas Franklin, Jordan Hyland, Matt Faddes, Josh Ioane. Conversions: Ioane, Dan Hollinshead.