The Blue Bulls clinched the final Currie Cup semi-final spot after a thrilling 50-29 win over the Golden Lions on Saturday.
The Blue Bulls clinched the final spot in the Currie Cup semi-finals after a thrilling 50-29 win over the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The victory means that Pine Pienaar's men will travel to Durban to face the table-topping Sharks in next Saturday's first semi-final and the Lions, who despite their loss finished second on the table, will host third-placed Western Province in the other play-off match.
The Bulls' hero was much-maligned fly-half Morne Steyn, who scored 23 points via four penalties, four conversions and a drop goal.
Steyn gave a timely reminder to Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer of his ability and also impressed with his allround game.
The match was played at a frenetic pace as both teams showed a willingness to run from all areas of the field which made for an entertaining spectacle.
Steyn and Golden Lions pivot Butch James traded early penalties before the match came alive in the 14th minute when the home side's lock Michale Rhodes scored the game's first try.
Rhodes had James and hooker Callie Visagie to thank as they launched a counter-attack from inside their own half before Visagie offloaded to the second-row who crashed over in the left-hand corner.
James converted to give his team a 13-3 lead but Steyn struck back soon after that with a drop-goal from 35 metres out.
There was another penalty from James two minutes later but the Bulls' pivot was not to be outdone and added two place-kicks of his own to narrow the gap to 16-12.
The visitors took the lead for the first time in the 32nd minute when Bjorn Basson crossed over after Jacques Potgieter laid the groundwork to the try with a 50 metre run before offloading to the on-rushing Springbok flyer who scored in the corner.
Steyn converted and added a penalty on the stroke of half-time to give the visitors a 22-16 lead at half-time.
James drew his side level with two further penalties after the restart but Bulls' scrum-half Jano Vermaak regained the lead for his team with his side'ssecond try shortly afterwards.
The Lions showed great determination and were on level terms again when Anthony Volmink exploited a gap in the Bulls defence to dot down under the posts in the 55th minute.
After that try the men from Pretoria took control of proceedings and scored 21 unanswered points through converted tries by number eight Arno Botha, captain Dewald Potgieter and right wing Akona Ndungane.
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Rhodes, Volmink
Cons: James 2
Pens: James 5
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Basson, Vermaak, Botha, D Potgieter, Ndungane
Cons: Steyn 4, FouchÃ¨
Pens: Steyn 4
Drop goal: Steyn
Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Butch James (c), 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Whestley Moolman, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe.
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 MornÃ¨ Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (c), 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 JuandrÃ¨ Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 MornÃ¨ Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis FouchÃ¨, 22 Dean Greyling.
Referee: Craig Joubert