Leon Haslam has denied Jonathan Rea a surprise victory in the second World Superbike Championship race of the day at Kyalami, the series leader prevailing at the chequered flag after only snatching the lead on the penultimate lap.

Rea looked on course for a superb win from 11th position on the grid after a good start and a series of eye-catching overtaking manoeuvres saw him charge into the lead on lap two.

However, having fended off several failed passes for the lead throughout the race, Haslam finally made his move stick on the penultimate lap before clinging on for a third victory of the season.

Following a fairly uneventful exchange in the first race, the second encounter proved to be anything but as the riders bullied their way through the opening turns with Haslam emerging out front, ahead of Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa and Rea, the Northern Irishman doing his chances a wealth of good to inch his way into fourth already.

Fourth became second mid-way around the lap when an aggressive pass up the inside of Checa was rewarded further by Biaggi running wide and allowing the Honda through too.

Benefitting from a tweak in the set-up that would allow him to be quicker over the opening few laps, Rea set about chasing down Haslam, but would be immediately gifted the lead when the Suzuki rider failed to get stopped in time for Westbank.

Promoting Rea into an unlikely lead, Haslam and Biaggi quickly regained their momentum to run him close in second and third, while Checa, Michel Fabrizio and Crutchlow as the top six began to break away.

Despite this, it was clear victory was only ever likely to come from the top three riders as they jostled around for position, the trio never once straying more than a couple of bike lengths apart as they concertinaed into the corners and along the straights.

Having re-launched his assault on Rea in his quest to get back the lead, a failed attempt around the outside of Westbank on lap seven would simply allow Biaggi up into second place.

From here, it was the Italian's turn to try and relieve Rea of the lead, but while he would plant his Aprilia down the inside at Continental, Rea was wise to it as he switched back and grabbed the advantage again straight away.

A mesmerising display of formation riding from all three riders, despite the various different lines and riding styles, not once was contact made as Rea continued to defend hard from Biaggi, who in turn was trying to attack in the knowledge a false move would allow Haslam back through.

It eventually came on lap 14 when Haslam shuffled his way back up to second position to resume his attack on Rea. Making the most of his momentum, Haslam tried another pass at Continental almost straight away, but would once again run wide, allowing Rea back through.

Biaggi would go on to make the same move on Haslam just a lap later, but once more the Suzuki man would be back past by the next bend.

Allowing Rea some room to breathe as the laps ticked down, Haslam was nonetheless back on his tail with only two laps remaining and poised to attack.

The move duly came with another attempt through the Mineshaft and into Continental, only this time Haslam was able to make Rea sit up slightly, preventing the Honda man from ducking straight back beneath him.

With the move stuck, Haslam proceeded to sprint ahead with just a single lap remaining, the Suzuki rider keeping it neat and tidy to cross the line for an outstanding, and potentially crucial, race win.

Far from dejected, Rea was a delighted second place, the Assen double winner praising the Ten Kate Honda team for improvements made to the bike since qualifying.

Biaggi was also pleased with third position on a circuit that he says doesn't suit the Aprilia. However, his failure to beat Haslam in either race means the Briton's advantage has crept up from 3 points to 15 as the season reaches its mid-way stage.

Crutchlow's run to fourth place, one second off the win, made him look closer on paper than he was in reality, the Briton getting another bad start from pole position before battling his way past Fabrizio and Checa to go fourth again by lap seven.

However, from here he stalled, the Yamaha man never anything more than being on the cusp of the top three riders. Even so, fourth and eighth actually signals his best weekend points' haul of the season so far.

Checa was another to keep a watching brief in fifth position as he continues to share third position in the overall standings with Rea.

Having occupied much of the airtime during race one, James Toseland enjoyed a quiet run to sixth position, the former champion joining his team-mate in getting a bad start from the front row before slowly but surely rising up the ranks to finish sixth.

After fading badly in race one, Troy Corser was a solid seventh for BMW, the Australian passing race one winner Michel Fabrizio late on as the Italian proved unable to replicate his earlier form.

Jakub Smrz crossed the line ninth for another top ten finish, while Noriyuki Haga put his dismal 17th in race one behind him with a measured ride to tenth position.

Ruben Xaus, Luca Scassa and Shane Byrne enjoyed a good tussle before settling in 11th, 12th and 13th respectively, while Tom Sykes put more points on the board for Kawasaki in 14th. Sylvain Guintoli rounded out the points' positions after a poor start left him towards the back of the field.

Elsewhere, Leon Camier ran as high as fifth early on but would slide down the order rapidly with a problem before eventually retiring four laps from the chequered flag whilst running 18th.

There was also disappointment for Sheridan Morais, who joined Camier on the slim retirements' list when he ditched his Aprilia at Mineshaft.