Stormers’ Vincent Koch trundled over with two seconds remaining and Brandon Thomson held his nerve to kick the conversion after the hooter to rescue a 17-17 draw against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday.
The Tokyo-based Sunwolves expansion side looked on course for a second win this term thanks to 12 points from the boot of Tusi Pisi and an eighth try of the season from Akihito Yamada but the Stormers battled back from 17-3 down to salvage a draw.
The South Africans were disjointed and ill-disciplined for most of the night, but the impressive Pieter-Steph du Toit went over from close range after an hour to give the visitors hope before fellow forward Koch capitalised at the death.
“It’s a very disappointing result, not the one we wanted, but we must give credit to the Sunwolves because they put us under a lot of pressure and made it very difficult for us,” Stormers captain Juan de Jongh said.
The draw took the Cape Town-based Stormers (31) four points clear at the top of the South African group, but the Lions (27) can overhaul the leaders with a bonus-point victory in their game in hand against the Blues later on Saturday.
The Stormers had beaten the Sunwolves 46-19 at home in their first meeting on April 8 and the sparse crowd at the Singapore National Stadium would have been fearing another thrashing when Jean-Luc du Plessis slotted home an early penalty.
Pisi, however, had other ideas and responded immediately from in front of the posts and started to dictate play with some supreme tactical kicking as Yamada continued his fine campaign by touching down in the corner to make it 8-3.
The Stormers were growing more frustrated, especially when a 20-phase attack garnered no reward, and a series of sloppy penalties enabled Pisi to land three more kicks by the 55th minute as the Sunwolves took charge of the match.
The visitors opted to give their forwards the bulk of possession to wear down the lighter Sunwolves and once Du Toit had put them within seven points, the home side were left to rue kicking for the corner in the last minute as the Stormers completed a length-of-the-field break to share the spoils.
“We were unfortunate but we know that if we can play at 100 per cent, we can put on a display like this. We would like to continue this way for the remainder of the season,” Sunwolves captain Harumichi Tatekawa said.