The Blues came from behind to beat the Lions 35-38, scoring a last-gasp try and earn their first win of the 2018 Super Rugby season at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.
Two tries in the last four minutes saw the Blues home against the Lions in the City of Gold.
Murphy Taramai scored with the last play of the game to give the Auckland club a famous victory.
It was the Kiwis’ first triumph over the Lions at Ellis Park since 2011. It was made all the sweeter after trailing 28-10 with less than 25 minutes to play.
Both teams scored five tries apiece in this action-packed, end-to-end classic.
The Blues clawed their way back to 28-24 with tries by Rieko Ioane and Jimmy Tupou before Dylan Smith crossed to extend the home team’s lead to 35-24.
Aphiwe Dyantyi missed the chance to close the game out for the Lions; he did not ground the ball in the in-goal area, knocking on instead.
From the 22-drop-out, the Blues went the length of the field, through multiple phases before Taramai crossed the whitewash.
The game started with Sonny Bill Williams making an uncharacteristic handling error (one of many), gifting the Lions an attacking scrum.
The Lions won the scrum-penalty, Ross Cronje took a quick-tap and sent a long, wide skip-pass to Sylvian Mahuza, who sped away from Melani Nanai to open the scoring.
Johan Janse van Rensburg played a one-two with Elton Jantjies after Willams lost possession near the touchline, and raced away to put the Lions 14-nil, up.
Bryn Gatland kicked a 22nd-minute penalty to get the Blues on the scoreboard.
The game had become stop-start with handling errors and reset scrums.
Just before half-time, Jantjies’ good footwork saw the Springbok flyhalf cross for the Lions third try. Another conversion gave the Lions, daylight.
However, Akira Ioane’s try soon after reduced the deficit to 14.
The second period started at a frenetic pace as both sides stretched each other’s defence in search of more five-pointers.
It was only more silly mistakes that kept the scores locked at 21-10.
Gatland missed two penalty attempts which looked to be costly when Dyantyi intercepted Taramai’s loose pass and races away for his fourth Super Rugby try of the season.
The Blues had only won one of their last 10 matches in South Africa and it was not looking good.
Somehow, they dug deep and found a way. It came from Rieko Ioane.
The winger, who started at outside centre, scored a seven-minute brace which changed the complexion of the game.
The Lions were reeling. After leading by 18 points, they were hanging on to a four-point lead.
A Blues mistake at the lineout led to Dylan Smith scoring, halting the Kiwis’ momentum and, seemingly, closed the game out.
However, two minutes’ later, Tupou crossed, making it 35-31 with the clock ticking down.
A charged down kick almost did for the visitors, but the TMO ruled that Dyantyi had not grounded the ball.
From the restart, the Blues went down the field in search of an unlikely winner.
They were camped inside the Lions’ 22 before Taramai broke the home team and supporter’s hearts. Cue bedlam.
Final score: Lions 35 (21) Blues 38 (10)
Tries – Mahuza, Janse van Rensburg, Jantjies, Dyantyi, D. Smith
Con – Jantjies (5)
Tries – A. Ioane, R. Ioane (2), Tupou, Taramai
Pen – Gatland
Con – Gatland, Perofeta (4)
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2: Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Willie Vos
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Francois Mostert, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobus Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Ashlon Davids, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Hacjivah Dayimani.
15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Ross Wright, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Michael Tamoaieta, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Jimmy Tupou, 21 Murphy Taramai, 22 Jonathan Ruru, 23 Stephen Perofeta