SINGAPORE - The Sunwolves came agonisingly close to shocking the Stormers for their second win of the Super Rugby season on Saturday night at the National Stadium.
With two seconds of regulation time remaining, the South African side scored a last-gasp try to close with a 17-17 draw.
The result denied the Japan and Singapore co-based team a victory to cap their series of three games at Kallang.
Entering the game with just a solitary win in nine games, it was always going to be a tall task for the Sunwolves, a side making its debut in the 18-team competition. Besides owning a superior 6-3 win-loss record, the Stormers are also the leaders of the South African group standings and they also have fresher legs following last week's bye.
But the South Africans looked lost and rusty in the first half with kicks gone astray, missed line-outs, dropped passes and wild ball-handling. Meanwhile, the hosts displayed tactical nous that allowed right wing Akihito Yamada to score the night's first try in the 12th minute.
It was the 30-year-old's league-leading eighth try in as many games he has played this season so far, with five of those tries coming in the Republic.
Samoan fly-half Tusi Pisi converted two easy penalty kicks to give Sunwolves a 14-3 lead at half-time.
The visitors had no answers to the Sunwolves, who continued to flummox their opponents with their chipping and kicking.
Pisi's fourth penalty kick of the match extended the Sunwolves' lead to 17-3 in the 59th minute as Mark Hammett's men looked well on course to avenge their earlier 19-46 loss to the same opponents on April 7.
The Cape Town-based side finally woke up in the 60th minute through lock Pieter-Steph du Toit's try to close the gap to seven points.
With a 8,749-strong crowd chanting "Sunwolves" in the closing minutes, they nervously hung on - until almost the end.
Vincent Koch scrambled across the touchline and Brandon Thomson converted to salvage a draw for the Stormers.
The Sunwolves have two matches remaining before they go on a one-month international break, where many of Hammett's players will be involved in Japan's Test matches against Canada (June 11) and Scotland (June 18 and 25).
They will next travel to Australia, where they take on the Reds (May 21) and the Brumbies (May 28).