The Golden Lions continued their resurgence in this year's Currie Cup when they edged the Blue Bulls 36-33 at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Both teams scored five tries in the match and the win helped the Lions leapfrog Western province into third place in the Currie Cup standings.
The Blue Bulls dominate play in the early stages of the game and they were camped inside the Lions' half for large periods before big lock Ruben van Heerden found himself in space in the Lions' 22 to sprint in for the first try. Flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff converted the score for a seven-point lead after eight minutes.
However, it did not take long for the home side to find their rhythm and after sustained pressure inside the Bulls' half, Jannes Kirsten was given a yellow card for repeated infringements (collapsing the maul).
The Lions took full advantage of the extra man with hooker Robbie Coetzee scoring a try after a powerful driving maul inside the Bulls' 22. Jaco van der Walt converted the try to level the scores in the 20th minute.
It was then the turn of the Lions to be reduced to 14 men when lock Andries Ferreira was shown yellow after he took an opponent out in the air.
In almost identical fashion, the Bulls took advantage of the penalty to set up a line-out in the Lions' 22 and after a short maul, it was Jano venter who broke off to go over for a try, which Boshoff converted.
However, one once again the Bulls could not hold onto the lead for long as the Lions easily found a way past their defence when Rohan Janse van Rensburg was put into space by centre partner Harold Vorster to run in for a try.
A few minutes later the centre pair combined again when Janse van Rensburg gathered a neat chip kick from Vorster in the Bulls' 22 to dive over for his second try. Van der Walt converted again and the Lions were 21-14 in front after 33 minutes.
The Lions were in full control after that score and they increased their lead a few minutes later when captain Jacques van Rooyen scored a try after another powerful driving maul inside the Bulls' 22.
At half-time, the Lions were leading 26-14.
The Blue Bulls needed to be the first to score in the second half and they did just that when replacement Johnny Kotze was put into space in the Lions' 22 to score in the corner in the 46th minute. Boshoff converted the try from a difficult angle to reduce the deficit to five points.
The Bulls dominated large periods of the second half without reward, but that was until the 66th minute when fullback Warrick Gelant burst through the Lions defence and evaded a few defenders to score his side's fourth try. Boshoff, from a tight angle, put the visitors in front with the conversion with 13 minutes left on the clock.
Van der Walt managed to put the Lions back in front with a penalty in the 70th minute before replacement Aphiwe Dyantyi scored a fantastic try a few minutes later, which Van der Walt also converted.
However, the Bulls were not to lie down and they hit back with a Johan Grobbelaar try. However, Manie Libbok could not add the two extra points with the conversion.
The Bulls had one final chance to win the game late on but they lost possession in the strike zone, which handed the Lions the win.
Man of the match: The award goes to centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg for scoring two excellent tries and being a handful for the Blue Bulls' defence throughout the match.
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Coetzee, Janse van Rensburg 2, Van Rooyen, Dyantyi
Cons: Van der Walt 4
Pen: Van der Walt
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Van Heerden, Venter, Kotze, Gelant, Grobbelaar
Cons: Boshoff 4
Yellow cards: Jannes Kirsten (Blue Bulls, 18 - repeated infringements, collapsing the maul); Andries Ferreira (Golden Lions, 21 - foul play, dangerous tackle)
Golden Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Ashlon Davids, 9 Marco Janse van Vuren, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen (captain).
Replacements: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Fabian Booysen, 21 Shaun Reynolds, 22 Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Burger Odendaal (captain), 12 John Jackson, 11 Rabs Maxwane, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Jano Venter, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic De Jager, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Matthys Basson, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Tim Agaba, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Manie Libbok, 22 Johnny Kotze.
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Damon Murphy
TMO: Willie Vos