Super 14 records tumbled as the Chiefs went top of the table with a 72-65 second-round win against the Lions on Friday.
The 137 points scored before a small Coca-Cola Park crowd bettered by 19 the previous best for a southern hemisphere championship game when the Sharks defeated the Highlanders 13 years ago.
The 18 tries evenly divided between the teams bettered by one the total amassed when the Crusaders dotted down 14 times and the Waratahs thrice in Christchurch eight years ago.
The 72 points scored by Chiefs from the northern island town of Hamilton was the highest away points tally and was achieved despite the side having three players sin-binned, while Lions became the first team to score 65 points and end up losers.
And the try fest continued until four minutes and 18 seconds into stoppage time when Lions replacement forward Jacques Lombaard barged over after countless phases, with the conversion earning his team a second bonus point.
When the kick from Lions fullback Earl Rose sailed between the posts to end the game it brought the curtain down on an amazing match in which the intention to run the ball was clear from the kick-off.
Chiefs fielded a long kick from Lions veteran New Zealand-born flyhalf Carlos Spencer inside their 22-metre line and almost took the ball to the Lions tryline before being held up.
But the visitors did not have to wait long before opening the scoring as a blindside break sent centre Callum Bruce over with 90 seconds gone and flyhalf Stephen Donald converted from far out.
A see-saw first half ended with the Chiefs 27-25 ahead and they stretched their lead to 65-25 mid-way through the second half as the Lions defence collapsed on a warm, clear night in the South African financial hub.
Then the Lions stormed back and scored 42 points while conceding seven with teenage wing Wandile Mjekevu crossing twice to complete a hat-trick of tries in only his second Super 14 appearance.
Had the match lasted a few minutes longer the Lions probably would have completed the most incredible comeback in Super 14 history as the 1 800-metre altitude took its toll on the visitors.
Supporters and critics of Super 14 rugby will gain ammunition from this match as there were some glorious tries while others stemmed from amateurish defending on a night when Donald did not miss any of 12 shots at goal.
As 30 exhausted players trooped off the field, the 2009 runners-up Chiefs had taken a three-point lead over the Reds in the table with the Bulls and Crusaders a point further back.
Richard Kahui (3), Callum Bruce, Stephen Donald, Liam Messam, Junior Poluleuligaga, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Brendon Leonard crossed the line for the Chiefs while Donald landed nine conversions and three penalties.
The Lions try scorers were Mjekevu (3), Todd Clever, Carlos Spencer, Doppies la Grange, Tonderai Chavhanga, Cobus Grobbelaar and Jacques Lombaard with Earl Rose converting seven and kicking two penalties.
[Info from Reuters]