Cape Town - The Golden Lions claimed a hard-fought, come-from-behind 38-35 victory over the Blue Bulls in a topsy-turvy encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Tries from Shaun Reynolds, James Venter, Dillon Smit and a Hacjivah Dayimani brace proved too much for the Blue Bulls who scored through Johnny Kotze, Andre Warner and a Ruan Steenkamp hat-trick.
The away side bossed the opening exchanges and were rewarded with the game's first try. Having taken a quick-tap penalty close to the Blue Bulls' try-line, the ball was swung to centre-field, where fly-half Reynolds showed dazzling footwork to cut through the centre of the hosts' defence.
Warner would hit back for the home side, however, as a Blue Bulls' counter-ruck forced the turnover. The scrum-half pounced on the loose ball and dummied his way past a couple of defenders to go untouched in under the posts.
Soon after, the Blue Bulls took the lead for the first time in the match when flank Steenkamp scored a superb individual effort, breaking his way past a number of tacklers.
The visitors' second came after come superb interplay between backs and forwards. Howard Mnisi was the creator as his long pass put James Venter in for the score-equalling try as Reynolds added the extras to make it 14-14.
Kotze would go over due to some questionable Golden Lions' defending moments later to regain the lead but the away side would restore parity once again through scrum-half Smit with a fine individual effort.
The home side would have the last laugh of the first-half as enforcer Ruan Steenkamp spun his would-be-tackler to twist his over way from close range and grab his brace as Libbok added the extra two points for a 28-21 lead as the sides went in to the interval.
Ten minutes after the break, the visitors found themselves even further behind as Steenkamp went over for his hat-trick. However, the Blue Bulls enforcer would turn from hero to zero moments later, when he was sin-binned for a neck roll.
This would give the Lions a route back in to the game as they capitalised on their numerical advantage through a magical Dayimani brace - the flanker showing his winger-like speed on both occasions to snatch the back lead dramatically at 38-35.
It looked as if the Blue Bulls might steal it in the closing stages, but for a brilliant turnover steal by Golden Lions' hero Dayimani at the breakdown to seal victory.
Blue Bulls 35 (28)
Tries: Andre Warner, Ruan Steenkamp (3), Johnny Kotze
Conversions: Manie Libbok (5)
Golden Lions 38 (21)
Tries: Shaun Reynolds, James Venter, Dillon Smit, Hacjivah Dayimani (2)
Conversions: Reynolds (3)
15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jonny Kotze, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 André Warner, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Jano Venter, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendré Stassen, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson
Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Conraad van Vuuren, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Duncan Matthews
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Len Massyn, 6 James Venter, 5 Marvin Orie (captain), 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Corne Fourie, 1 Sti Sithole
16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Vincent Tshituka, 21 Madosh Tambwe, 22 Wandisile Simelane