Blues stun South African front runners with late winner
THE Blues have piled on four tries in the closing minutes to upset the previously unbeaten Lions 38-35 in a Super Rugby thriller in Johannesburg.
Murphy Taramai crossed to give his team the lead for the first time with 18 seconds remaining and ensured they picked up their first win of the season. Trailing the powerhouse South African outfit 28-10 with 17 minutes remaining, the Blues somehow found a second-wind on the highveld on Sunday morning (NZT).
A double to All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane, playing out of position at centre, kick-started the late surge before replacement forwards Jimmy Tupou and Taramai completed one of the Auckland-based team's more memorable wins.
The Lions will lament winger Aphiwe Dyantyi's inability to ground the ball over the tryline minutes before Taramai's winner.
Several replays were needed before it was ruled no-try in a crucial moment.
It ends a three-from-three winning start to the season for the Lions while the Blues shook off two narrow losses to the Highlanders and Chiefs, which threatened to derail their season early on.
Both teams scored five converted tries, with Bryn Gatland's first-half penalty proving the difference.
Gatland converted a solo try from powerhouse No. 8 Akira Ioane late in the first half to give his team a foothold in the game after the Lions burst clear 21-3.
Making fewer mistakes and proving more clinical on attack, the hosts had crossed through winger Sylvian Mahuza, second five-eighth Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Elton Jantjies.
Gatland's two missed penalties from handy range early in the second spell were followed by an intercept try to Dyantyi which appeared to make the game safe for the Lions.
However, they couldn't deny a Blues side who dominated the game's attacking statistics and finally made the passes stick in a frenetic closing period.