A huge second-half performance from the Blues saw them snatch a 41-32 victory over the Lions in Johannesburg on Friday.
A huge second-half performance from the Blues saw them snatch a 41-32 Super Rugby victory over the Lions in Johannesburg on Friday.
The Blues outscored their hosts five tries to four in a dong-dong battle to claim a bonus point.
The Lions lead 25-17 at half time but the Blues' powerful bench proved decisive as Rene Ranger scored two tries within five minutes of coming on to put the visitors back in front.
The Lions have not won a Super Rugby game since May 2009 and, not for the first time, they were the architects of their own downfall as they failed to capitalise on a number of opportunities and were punished for making a few suicidal decisions in their own 22.
The home side will be kicking themselves for not at least claiming a losing bonus point. Despite being given a series of penalties while camped on the Blues try-line in the dying minutes, they chose to go for a fifth try rather than ensuring they finished within seven points of the Blues.
The actually did cross the line in the final act of the game, but Michael Killian split the ball in contact while diving in, summing up another heartbreaking game for John Mitchell's side.
It was thrill-a-minute stuff as the Lions went into all-out attack mode from the very start, which wasn't necessarily always to their advantage.
The Blues pounced on every chance handed to them, maintaining their composure under the guidance of fly-half Luke McAlister, who had a storming game.
The Blues were first to strike when Joe Rokocoko scored his 37th Super Rugby try in the fourth minute after Isaia Toeava carved through the home defence.
Lions number eight Warren Whiteley provided the spark for an immediate reply, stealing a line-out before breaking clear to put Jano Vermaak into the corner.
Rokocoko created the Blues second try, busting through the midfield to set up Jared Payne for an easy score.
McAlister's conversion and a fine drop goal either side of a Jantjies penalty saw the gap remain at seven after the first quarter.
The Lions bounced right back however as Waylon Murray linked with Whiteley who scored in the corner.
There was more trouble to come for the visitors when Kurtis Haiu was yellow-carded just before half-time, with the hosts making full use of the man advantage as Doppies la Grange went over to give the Lions a 25-17 lead at half time.
After the restart, John Mitchell's side wasted two excellent try-scoring chances, before being punished on the break when Ranger ran in the first of two tries under the posts.
There was no problem for McAlister with the conversion and he converted another shortly after when Ranger crossed again as the Blues took control.
A McAlister penalty from over 60m put the Blues clear.
Joshua Strauss threatened another twist to the encounter when he went over for the Lions' bonus-point try.
Blues scrum-half Alby Mathewson made sure the Blues would get the result when he broke through after another big mistake from Elton Jantjies in his own 22.
The Lions provided all the pressure in the closing minutes, without any reward as their decision making let them down. Again.
For the Lions:
Tries: Vermaak, Whiteley, La Grange, Strauss
Cons: Jantjies 3
Pens: Jantjies 2
For the Blues:
Tries: Rokocoko, Payne, Ranger 2, Mathewson
Cons: McAlister 4, Brett
Yellow card: Haiu (Blues – 38th min – professional foul)
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe (c), 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patrick Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Dries van Schalkwyk, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 , 22 James Kamana.
Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino (c), 5 Ali Williams, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Rene Ranger.
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Joey Salmans (South Africa), Phillip Bosch (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)