The Kings moved past the Force into 13th place
The Kings put some daylight between them and their opposition at the bottom of the log when they beat the Highlanders 34-27 in Port Elizabeth.
The Eastern Cape side bagged a valuable full house of points in front of their home crowd, with tries before and after half-time crucial in putting the Highlanders' away.
It was an intriguing encounter which saw both teams enjoy periods of dominance, and while the Kings moved past the Force into 13th place the Highlanders were full value for their two points.
The opening exchanges were tense as the teams traded penalties, and it was the home side who crossed the whitewash first as captain Luke Watson forced his way over after a powerful driving maul.
That try gave the Kings a 13-3 lead, and they kept the pressure on by pinning the Highlanders back in their own half.
However, the Highlanders hit back soon after through a piece of individual brilliance from flyhalf Colin Slade who collected his own chip in the 22 to score between the poles.
That was followed up soon afterwards by a try from experienced lock Brad Thorne which gave the Highlanders a 17-13 lead.
The Kings were desperate to strike again before the break and were rewarded for refusing the kick at goal when Watson went over for his second try from another driving maul to put them 22-17 ahead at half-time.
The Kings took the game to the Highlanders at the start of the second half and were rewarded when Cornell du Preez got over in the corner.
Tamati Ellison was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements by his team and the home side capitalised when Make found some space and put Shaun Venter over for the bonus-point try.
The Highlanders tried desperately to find a way back into the game and hammered away at the Kings' defence which eventually resulted in centre Shaun Treeby bursting over for their third try.
The bonus point was secured for the visitors when Hosea Gear powered his way over over the line, but Slade's poor kicking continued as he missed the conversion again.
The Kings found themselves defending for their lives at the end of the game, but the Kings held on for their third win of the season.
Man of the match: There were a few good performances from the Kings with Bandise Maku, Demetri Catrakilis and captain Luke Watson all impressing, but No.8 Cornell du Preez gets our award for a tireless performance.
For the Kings:
Tries: Watson 2, Du Preez, Venter
Cons: Catrakilis 4
Pens: Catrakilis 2
For the Highlanders:
Tries: Slade, Thorne, Treeby, Gear
Cons: Slade 2
Yellow card: Ellison (55 mins, repeated infringements)
Southern Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Siyanda Grey, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Luke Watson (captain), 6 Wimpie van der Walt, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Daniel Adongo, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Shane Gates, 22 SP Marais.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Tino Nemani, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 John Hardie, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Mose Tuiali'i, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Fumiaka Tanaka, 21 Hayden Parker, 22 Jason Emery.
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwessen (South Africa)