The two South African teams are to be removed from the competition as part of a restructure, with one Australia-based franchise – either theCheetahs Melbourne Rebels or Western Force – set to follow them.
However, both are poised to be confirmed as members of the Pro12 next week, but they bowed out of Super Rugby with a thrilling finish in wet conditions at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, on Friday.
The hosts appeared set to take the spoils when they led 20-6 midway through the second half, but Cheetahs Clinton Swart and Raymond Rhule crossed in short order before Niel Marais slotted over the decisive penalty five minutes from time.
The Kings led 12-3 at the break, Makazole Mapimpi and Wandile Mjekevu going over to give them a dominant lead, with Fred Zeilinga’s penalty all the Cheetahs could muster in response.
Giant Mtyanda increased their advantage four minutes after the restart before Zeilinga stopped the run of unanswered points at 17 with his second three-pointer.
But it was fly-half Zeilinga’s substitution in favour of Marais that tilted the game in the Cheetahs’ favour. Marais was more of a threat with ball in hand and 12 minutes from time the visitors had hope when Swart went over in the corner.
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