PERTH - South Africa's Lions broke a 10-year losing streak in Australia with a thrilling 25-24 win over the Western Force in the Super 14 in Perth early this morning.
Replacement first five-eighths Andre Pretorius kicked the winning penalty in the final minute to give the Lions their first win on Australian soil since the southern hemisphere's regional tournament started in 1996.
The Force, who joined the competition last season, missed the chance to win their first game at home when Matt Giteau attempted a drop goal in injury time that sailed wide.
"We're changing history but we're not doing it spectacularly yet," Lions coach Eugene Eloff said in a televised interview.
"For a young team to win a game like this shows a lot of character. They kept their composure without a lot of possession. They just kept chipping away, that's the sign of a good side."
The Lions began confidently with first five-eighths Louis Strydom booting two early penalties.
The Force opened their account when Shepherd, who scored 19 of his team's points, landed his first goal but the Lions extended their lead when outside centre Jaque Fourie scored his team's only try.
Shepherd scored out wide then prop Gareth Hardy crashed over near the posts to give the home side the lead.
But the Lions, who trailed 18-13 at halftime, tightened up their defence and dominated the second half, with Pretorius booting a drop goal then the winning penalty after coming on for Strydom and taking over the kicking duties.
The Force had regained the lead three minutes from the end when winger Cameron Shepherd kicked his fourth penalty but gave it up straight away when they conceded a penalty of their own.
"In the second half our execution was just terrible and we can only blame ourselves tonight," said Force captain Nathan Sharpe.
Lions 25 (Jaque Fourie try; Louis Strydom 1 con 4 pens, Andre Pretorius 1 pen 1 drop goal) Western Force 24 (Cameron Shepherd, Gareth Hardy tries; Shepherd 1 con 4 pens) at Subiaco Oval, Perth.