The British and Irish Lions narrowly avoided an embarrassing defeat as their South Africa tour spluttered into life with a 37-25 win against the Royal XV.
The tourists trailed 25-13 with 14 minutes left at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace against a team which had never previously played together.
The Lions had not lost their first fixture on tour since 1971 - when Queensland beat them in Brisbane en route to New Zealand - but that spectre loomed large.
They were rescued though, through late tries by substitute lock Alun-Wyn Jones and fly-half Ronan O’Gara, who also kicked three penalties and four conversions for a 22-point haul.
Wing Tommy Bowe and impressive full-back Lee Byrne claimed earlier tries, but the representative Royal XV managed three of their own through skipper Willhelm Koch, hooker Rayno Barnes and prop Bees Roux.
Home number eight Jonathan Mokuena was a deserved man of the match and the Lions will feel a colossal sense of relief after getting out of jail.
They made numerous handling errors and several scoring chances went begging against opponents drawn from Vodacom Cup sides like the Griquas and Leopards.
And their display suggested world champions South Africa have little to worry about in next month’s Test series unless there is a vast improvement.
The Lions will put much of their display down to early rustiness, but a sparse crowd of 12,532 in a 42,000-capacity stadium expected so much more.
Byrne looked their most accomplished performer, while skipper Paul O’Connell had his moments, but there were poor displays from the likes of centre Keith Earls and scrum-half Mike Blair.
The Lions now move back to Johannesburg, where Super 14 side the Golden Lions await on Wednesday night, and it will be difficult for them not to produce a better display.