Jantjies scored all 27 of the Lions’ points through nine penalties, a SuperRugby record, missing just two attempts at goal.
Jannie Kruger (Northern Transvaal 1996), Willie Walker (Otago, 2003), Meyer Bosman (Cheetahs, 2006) and Derick Hougaard (Bulls, 2007) had all previously kicked eight penalties in a match.
Opposite number Johan Goosen ensured the Lions had to work exceptionally hard for their victory, however, as he kicked even more impressively, landing all seven of his attempts at goal, including a 48m snap drop goal and a phenomenal 57m penalty.
The Lions effectively won the game when the 19-year-old Goosen was out of action, the Cheetahs flyhalf being yellow-carded between the 54th and 64th minutes for twice not rolling away in the tackle, before leaving the field with a head injury in the 68th minute.
Both scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn and replacement flyhalf Sias Ebersohn missed relatively straightforward penalties while Goosen was off the field.
The Cheetahs ensured that they led from the ninth to the 71st minute as they scored the only try of the match, with prop WP Nel muscling his way over the tryline from close range in the ninth minute.
“If you concede two yellow cards and 16 penalties then you’re not going to win. We didn’t play badly, but bad discipline cost us. Johan Goosen kicked really well, but tactically, especially in the second half, we could have controlled the game better,” Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske said.
With both teams often floundering at the breakdowns, Goosen was presented with several penalties, but it was a credit to Jantjies’ composure that he also kept chipping away at the other end.
“The breakdown was always going to be scrappy, but it was a learning curve for us. It was definitely frustrating, maybe the guys aren’t used to the referee’s calls this early in the season, we struggled with the timing of getting our hands off the ball and leaving daylight. But Elton is an exceptional player, he’s proved it time and time again,” Lions captain Joshua Strauss said.
The match-winning penalty came with seven minutes remaining as Cheetahs replacement flank Ashley Johnson hit centre Doppies la Grange with a high tackle and Jantjies calmly slotted the kick from 40 metres out.
Lions – Penalties: Elton Jantjies (9).
Cheetahs – Try: WP Nel. Conversion: Johan Goosen. Penalties: Goosen (5). Drop goal: Goosen.