It was only an 82nd-minute try by Lions rightwing Ruan Combrinck that put some daylight between the teams, while a red card was shown to Kings fullback Hansie Greeff for punching as well as a dangerous judo-tackle on Lions flank Kwagga Smith after the final hooter already went.
Leading by just six and with just 10 minutes left replacement flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff was called upon to kick a crucial penalty to put the Lions ahead 30-21 to create some breathing space, while a yellow card in the 76th minute to Kings replacement Eital Bredenkamp probably finally ended their gutsy approach.
With the win the Lions, who scored five tries to three, ensured they remained at the top of the log but just one point ahead of the Blue Bulls, who are also unbeaten, and with the only two unbeaten teams meeting at Loftus next weekend for a top-of-the-table clash, it’s bound to be an enticing contest.
Two big Lions concerns however are the injuries to lock Martin Muller in the first half, to be replaced by Lourens Erasmus, and the possible concussion to wing Anthony Volmink in the 64th minute, replaced by Jano Venter.
The Kings however when they scored their third try in the 54th minute by No 8 Paul Schoeman, his second from a rolling maul in the game, to reduce matters to 27-21 the red lights started flashing for the home side.
Visiting flyhalf Karlo Espeling converted all three tries, while Lions pivot Jaco van der Walt missed two of his five attempts.
Having lead 27-14 at the break and having scored their bonuspoint try already after 30 minutes, the Lions however allowed the EP Kings to come back by being over ambitious and probably not respecting the Kings enough for whom hooker Edgar Marutlulle, a former Lions hooker, and flanker Stefan Willemse, a former Shark age-group player, very good.
Having raced to a 19-0 lead after just 12 minutes it would have appeared that the Lions wanted to rack up a record score but the EP Kings fought back strongly to reduce matters to 19-14 just nine minutes later.
The Lions already scored their first try in the fourth minute when they were awarded a penalty try from a rolling maul and six minutes later flanker Kwagga Smith scored his sixth try of the season after a crushing forward drive by hooker Malcolm Marx for a 12-0 lead.
Barely two minutes later centre Stokkies Hanekom stormed down a kick from Kings fullback Hansie Greeff to give the homeside their third try, but the easy start might have lulled the homeside in a false sense of security.
The Kings hit back with their first try by wing Siyanda Grey in the 15th minute to reduce matters to 19-7 and eight minutes later their No 8 Paul Schoeman dived for their second try over after an impressive rolling maul and suddenly it was a five-point game.
The Lions however then scored their bonuspoint try in the 30th by flanker Steph de Wit after a great off-load from new captain Howard Mnisi for a 24-14 lead and when Van der Walt added a penalty in the 40th minute the Lions enjoyed a 13-point cushion at the break.