Blues end singing
SUPER RUGBY MATCH REPORT: Murphy Taramai's dramatic last-gasp score made sure the Blues produced a remarkable 38-35 win over the in-form Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The better side won but they left it as late as one could leave it. And they did it with a try, not a kick.
In fact when they got the lead for the first time in the match, time was up. In the last ten minutes, four tries were scored, three by the Blues and so worth 21 points.
There were many surprises in the match.
The Lions were unbeaten, the Blues winless. The Lions lost; the Blues won.
By recent reputation, the Lions had a powerful scrum. The Blues outscrummed them.
The Lions' handling and interpassing was of the highest order. The Blues was of a higher order, as they kept and used the ball better.
The visitors would fade as the altitude got to them. The Blues were much stronger in the second half when they scored 28 points to 14.
Turnovers counted in this match. A turnover set up the match's first try and also its last. Both were turnovers from knock-ons.
The Lions kicked off to start the match. Sonny Bill Williams knocked on and the Blues were penalised at the scrum. Ross Cronje tapped and ran and then threw a long pass - a great pass - to the right wing, Sylvain Mahuza, who scored in the corner. From their Elton Jantjies, who had a magnificent game, converted from touch. 7-0 after 2 minutes.
But then, early in the game, the Blues attacked. From a line-out they manufactured and overlap for Michael Collins and Rieko Ioane was close. They then kicked a kickable penalty out for a line-out but Jantjies got to a grubber into in-goal first and the attack was broken.
The Lions won a turnover and launched an all-out attack with their best handling of the match. Mahuza had another electric run and, when Williams knocked the ball up, Jantjies grabbed it and set of running. He gave inside to Rohan Janse van Rensburg who scored. 14-0 after 15 minutes./
When Malcolm Marx was offside, Bryn Gatland goaled a penalty. This, in terms of the final score, proved invaluable. He later missed two long penalties in front of the posts and was replaced. 14-3 after 21 minutes.
At this stage a blow struck the Lions. Warren Whiteley had treatment on the field for a painful knee and then went off the field, replaced by Kwagga Smith. In the match interview he suggested that the injury might not be too serious. The Lions and all South Africa will hold its breath.
The Blues were penalised and Jantjies kicked a brilliant long ball out for a five-metre line-out. The Lions bashed and bashed at the stubborn Blues defence till Jantjies flew over for a try that he converted. 21-3 with two minutes to half-time.
Perhaps the Lions relaxed but the Blues certainly did not. The Lions were careless at a messy tackle and suddenly Akira Ioane, the tall, rugged No.8, sprinted to the posts. Gatland converted and the half-time score was 21-10.
At the start of the second half and in fact for most of the half, the Blues were well on top, though the game was messy at times. And it was Lions who scored first. Near the half-way line, substitute scrumhalf Jonathan Ruru passed to his left and Aphiwe Dyantyi intercepted and raced 50 empty metres to score at the posts. 28-10 after 55 minutes.
Dyantyi seemed about to score another try from far out but the pass to him from Cyle Brink was forward.
From a scrum, Gatland's replacement, Stephen Perofeta had a strong run to set the Blues on close attack. Ruru lobbed a long pass to Rieko Ioane who caught the ball and dropped to ground for the try in the left corner. Perofeta converted from touch. 28-17 with 13 minutes to play.
The Lions had a line-out well in their own territory. Marx and Kwagga Smith did clever things but Smith lost the ball. The Blues snapped it up and went wide left where Rieko Ioane stepped inside and was over at the posts. 28-24 with 10 minutes to play.
For the second time in the match Jantjies kicked a brilliant touch from a penalty. The Lions mauled from the line-out, getting closer and closer to the line till sturdy prop Dylan Smith battered his way over for the try. 35-24 with 7 minutes to play.
Right from the kick-off the Blues attacked and Jimmy Tupou forced his way over for a try at the posts. 35-31 with 5 exciting minutes to play.
From the kick-off, Ruru kicked but Dyantyi charged the kick down. The ball was skidding off in in-goal and Dyantyi was ;leading the race for it. He dived, the ball did a tiny hop and Dyantyi just missed scoring a try - a try which may well have won the match.
With two minutes to play Marx had the ball but as he was tackled he lost it forward to grateful Blues' hands. Down the field they went. Collins was close as was Rieko Ioane and then with 11 seconds to play Murphy Taramai burst ahead and over the line near the posts. Perofeta converted and the final whistle sounded for a famous Blues victory.
Man of the Match: Elton Jantjies, who took mover the captaincy when Whiteley went off was brilliant. It may have been his best match for the Lions, He is our man of the Match, despite the heroics of the Ioanes, Rieko and Akira and the effective scrummaging of Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Tries: Mahuza, Janse van Rensburg, Jantjies, Dyantyi, D Smith
Cons: Jantjies 5
Tries: A Ioane, R Ioane 2, Tupou, Taramai
Cons: Gatland, Perofeta 4
Lions: 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.
Blues: 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.
Referee: Nicholas Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Jaco Pretorius (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)