The Vodacom Blue Bulls overturned a 13-point deficit before clinching a 22-20 (halftime 7-17) win over the Golden Lions in their Vodacom Cup North Section match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Bulls, who found themselves trailing 20-7 after 48 minutes turned in a strong second-half performance to clinch their first win of the season after losing their first two games.
The Bulls looked the more clinical of the two teams during the opening exchanges and the hosts opened the scoring in the 11th minute when eighthman Clyde Davids took a scoring pass from flyhalf Louis Fouche to dot down after the Blue Bulls had won a turnover at a ruck.
However, the Golden Lions struck back just six minutes later when flank Cyle Brink showed superb power to force his way over the tryline despite a clutch of defenders on his back.
The visitors then scored the try of the match through right wing Vainon Willis after a move that started in the Lions’ 22-metre area.
Fullback Chrysander Botha spilt the Bulls’ defence before shifting the ball to Willis who showed a wonderful turn of pace and some deft footwork to outstrip the cover defence as his 50-metre run ended in a converted try.
The home team had their chances to narrow the deficit but Fouche missed two kickable penalties before his opposite number Elton Jantjies, who put in a strong performance with his boot and with ball in hand, put the Lions into a 17-7 halftime lead with a successful penalty kick shortly before the end of the half.
The Lions opened the second-half scoring through an Elton Jantjies penalty but the Blue Bulls looked a far better outfit in the second stanza and they slowly but surely fought their way back into the contest.
They narrowed the gap to eight points, in the 52nd minute, when right wing Clayton Blommetjies showed good footwork to step his way over from close range for an unconverted try.
The gap was down to just one point eight minutes later when Bulls fullback Jaco Kriel charged down an attempted clearance kick before being on hand to take a scoring pass and going over for a converted try.
The hosts finally took the lead, with 15 minutes left in the match, when replacement flyhalf Tony Jantjies slotted a long-range penalty with what proved to be the decisive score.
VODACOM BLUE BULLS – Tries: Clyde Davids, Clayton Blommetjies, Jaco Kriel; Conversions: Louis Fouche, Tony Jantjies; Penalty: Tony Jantjies
GOLDEN LIONS – Tries: Cyle Brink, Vainon Willis; Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2); Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2).