Blue Bulls fullback Manie Libbok's three tries helped the host secured a narrow 44-42 win over Griquas at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
Blue Bulls initially had Warrick Galant in their starting line-up, however, the fullback was replaced by Manie Libbok just before the kick-off.
The late change proved to be a blessing in disguise, as the hosts' attack did not appear hindered and John Mithcell's troops even took a 27-21 lead at the break.
The two teams scored 11 tries, five belonging the Blue Bulls, while Griquas' six tries made sure they take a losing bonus-point to Kimberley.
The win sees the Blue Bulls leapfrogged to third on the Currie Cup log.
After just three minutes of play, the Blue Bulls were on the board thanks to a timely chip-kick by Marnitz Boshoff to send the wing Rabs Maxwane over the line. Boshoff added the easy extras, 7-0.
However, they soon found themselves trailing as Griquas gradually work their way into the match and scored two consecutive tries via of Ederies Arendse and Christiaan Meyer. The wing neatly picked up a loose ball made available by Johnathan Francke while scrumhalf Meyer intercepted a Blue Bulls' pass on the 10 metre and outpace Duncan Matthews to score.
Both tries were converted by Andre Swarts.
The lead was short-lived as Dayan van der Westhuizen’s converted try soon levelled the score at 14-all. The huge Blue Bulls prop sidestepped past Francke and stretched over the line for the points. Boshoff levelled the score, 14-all.
On the quarter mark, Blue Bulls won a penalty inside the Griquas half, the hosts opted for the post and finally took the lead.
The side extended the lead with a brilliant individual effort by Libbok, he collected Meyer's box kick and stepped his way through the gaps. Boshoff added the extras
Griquas did not back down, they soon found themselves in the Blue Bulls half, shifted the ball out wide where wing Arendes was all too happy to dot down and bagged his brace of tries.
Swarts made no mistake to add the extras to trail, 21-24.
Griquas attack was overshadowed by their ill-discipline. They conceded a penalty just inside their 10 metre, Boshoff stepped up to punish them further, 27-21.
Minutes later they found themselves down to 14 men. The Wilmar Anorldi hooker put in a dangerous tackle and was given a yellow card, fortunately for his team the side’s defence managed to not leak anymore tries before the break.
As the second half commenced Libbok caught the Griquas’ defence napping, with in two minutes the fullback bagged his hat-trick, 41-21.
The try-scoring festivities halted for a while, however after some relentless attacking by the Griquas the side narrowed the 20 points deficits.
The side scored three tries in their hunt to cause an upset.
Wandile Putuma powered his way over the line. Whitehead added the extras to trail, 28-42.
With minutes left on the clock, Blue Bulls looked vulnerable as Griquas continued to apply pressure. They were eventually rewarded when captain Adriaan Coertzen scored a brace, just after Tony Jantjies slotted over a penalty to secure the narrow victory for the Blue Bulls.
Man of the match: Our nod goes to Manie Libbok, the late replacement was good on attack and scored three great individual tries.
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Maxwane, Van der Westhuizen, Libbok 3
Cons: Boshoff 5
Pens: Boshoff 2
Tries: Arendse 2, Meyer, Putuma, Coertzen 2
Cons: Swarts 3, Whitehead 3
Yellow Card: Wilmar Arnoldi (Griquas, 33 - Dangerous tackle using no arms)
Blue Bulls: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 John Thomas Jackson, 11 Rabs Maxwane, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Shaun Adendorff, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Aston Fortuin, 3 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Jano Venter, 19 Tim Agaba, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Tony Jantjies/Tinus de Beer, 22 Franco Naude/Stedman Gans.
Griquas: 15 Adriaan Coertzen (captain), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Johnathan Francke, 11 Koch Marx, 10 Andre Swarts, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 4 Floris Pelser, 3 Stephan Kotze, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Liam Hendricks.
Replacements: 16 Abraham Le Roux, 17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 18 Wandile Putuma, 19 De Wet Kruger, 20 Renier Botha, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Eric Zana.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Ruhan Meiring, Jaco Kotze