The Lions took a big step towards returning to Super Rugby on Friday after they overcame the Kings 26-19 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
It's advantage Lions in Super Rugby's promotion/relegation clash after the Johannesburg side won 26-19 in PE.
The visitors led 19-14 at half-time and went further ahead when centre Stokkies Hanekom crossed for his second try in the 66th minute, pivot Elton Jantjies adding the conversion to make it 26-14.
But shortly afterwards, Dylan des Fountain was sent to the sin bin and the Kings came storming back with lock Steven Sykes powering over.
Replacement George Whitehead missed the extras, but, in the end, it proved inconsequential because the Lions did an excellent job of holding the home side at bay late on.
The Kings took a bonus point from the game for ending within seven points of the Lions, but it will be little consolation as they now look ahead to a tough away fixture next weekend.
The Lions were solid through most of the match and their good defence frustrated a number of attacking opportunities enjoyed by the Kings.
Besides Hanekom's two tries, fly-half Jantjies had a good night with the boot, slotting four penalties and two conversions for a personal contribution of 16 points.
The first half was an evenly fought affair, with the sides trading several penalties before the Kings eventually cracked the visitors' defence with a well executed cross-kick by fly-half Demetri Catrakilis after a five-metre line-out.
With Marcello Sampson standing wide on the left, the Kings fly-half's accurate kick landed in his hands and he dived over for the first try of the match to put his team back in the lead.
But just as the Kings were building up steam, Hanekom brought them crashing down, when he intercepted inside his own half to race through to score under the posts.
Earlier, the teams traded penalties, with Jantjies slotting four for the Lions and Catrakilis knocking over three for the Kings.
The two outfits will meet again next Saturday at Ellis Park as the Lions look to ensure a possible return to Super Rugby competition at the first time of asking.
For the Kings:
Tries: Sampson, Sykes
Pen: Catrakilis 3
For the Lions:
Tries: Hanekom 2
Con: Jantjies 2
Pen: Jantjies 4
Kings: 15 SP Marais, 14 Hadleigh Parkes, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Darron Nell (capt), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Charl du Plessis, 17 Hannes Franklin, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Waylon Murray.
Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Chrysander Botha.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Sindile Mayende
TMO: Deon van Blommestein