SINGAPORE - The Sunwolves' wait for their first Super Rugby win continues, after they lost 27-30 to the Bulls of South Africa at the National Stadium on Saturday.
It was the Japanese franchise's fourth consecutive loss since they entered the elite club competition this year.
Just like their previous game at the National Stadium against the Cheetahs two weeks ago, the Sunwolves started brightly, scoring an early try after less than two minutes through American right flanker Andrew Durutalo.
But the Bulls took the lead in the 27th minute, when captain Adriaan Strauss scored a try from a lineout drive to put his team 14-10 in front.
The Bulls tried to starve the Sunwolves of the ball, limiting them to just 30 per cent of the possession in the first half, which ended with the visitors leading 16-10.
Shortly after the break, the Bulls stretched their lead to 23-10, thanks to a try by flanker Roelof Smit.
However, the Sunwolves refused to concede defeat, pushing hard and scoring a try when left flanker Akihito Yamada found a breakaway from his own half to close the gap to 23-20.
With the 7,571-strong crowd up on their feet cheering for them, a historic first Sunwolves victory felt within reach.
However, the Bulls scored another try in the 66th minute through Jamba Ulengo to push their lead to 30-20. While the Sunwolves had another try through Yuki Yatomi in the final play of the match, time ran out on their comeback bid.
The Sunwolves, co-based in Singapore and Japan, will return to the National Stadium to face a third South African outfit, the Stormers, on May 14.
They might fancy their chance to get a maiden win next week, when they travel 14,102km from Tokyo to South Africa to take on the Kings in Port Elizabeth next Saturday.
Like the Sunwolves, the Kings have lost all four of their matches so far this season, and have a poorer scoring and defensive record than the Sunwolves.