Blues storm to dramatic win
Brenden Nel
March 10, 2018

Blues replacement Murphy Taramai scored a try after the hooter to give the Blues a remarkable come from behind 38-35 win over the previously unbeaten Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.

In one of the most amazing comebacks in Super Rugby, the Blues finally found their way through after dominating possession most of the game, heading back from 28-10 down to give themselves a special win on the Highveld.

It took a brace of tries by All Black winger Rieko Ioane to start the comeback as the Lions faithful sat stunned as Tana Umaga’s side stormed back from a seemingly unwinnable position.

In a game filled with tension and drama, the Lions looked like they had done more than enough to win, even though they often didn’t see the ball for long periods of time.

The home side’s ability to strike when it mattered saw them canter to the big lead, but when it mattered the New Zealanders turned on the power and pace to storm back and steal the game from them.

The game was a humdinger of note, but will be remembered as Swys de Bruin’s first defeat in charge of the side, and a game they should have shut up shop a lot earlier.

It came down in the end to a dive by Aphiwe Dyantyi, who charged down a clearance three minutes from time that wasn’t awarded by the Television match official, and which gave the Blues a shot at redemption.

And they took it, pounding their way upfield until it became a simple method of battering ram on the line.

With so much at stake something was going to give, and eventually it did as man of the match Akira Ioane shoved Taramai over the line to score and start wild celebrations from the New Zealanders.

In a game where the Blues had so many chances, and the Lions defence was superb to watch, it was perhaps justice that they came back in the end and fulfilled their potential. The Lions will see this as a blip but will be smarting that they let the game get away.

The home side, after all, had stolen the advantage after just 90 seconds where a free kick was sent wide for Sylvian Mahuza to go over in the corner.

The Blues dominated the middle areas of the game but the Lions struck again when Rohan Janse van Rensburg took a turnover ball, passed inside to Elton Jantjies, who returned the favour for the Springbok midfielder to sprint down the touchline to score.

The Lions lost captain Warren Whiteley to an apparent ankle injury after 20 minutes but it didn’t seem to affect the team as shortly afterwards Jantjies ran onto a pass at pace to crash over from a short distance and put his side 21-3 up.

Akira Ioane broke through on halftime to get his side to double figures, breaking from a ruck to beat two tackles and give the Blues a vital score on the break.

The Lions held a 21-10 lead at the break but powered away in the second half as Gatland missed two kickable penalty chances.

It was Dyantyi that read an attack perfectly to pounce on the pass and run 50 metres for the intercept try.

At 28-10 and the clock ticking down it seemed the Lions were on their way to another victory but the Blues surged back, with Ioane scoring in the corner after a battered attack and then the winger adding a second with a beautiful angle that found a hole in the defence.

At 28-24 the Lions looked rattled, but they found their confidence again with a monster lineout drive that led to Dylan Smith going over and looking to seal the game. At 35-24 it seemed they had averted the threat, but the Blues found a way and Jimmy Tupou found enough space to give the Blues hope.

And they took the hope they were offered and scored the try to win, breaking the 14000 hearts at Ellis Park and reminding the Lions that they will have to fight in the end for every game.

The loss will be seen as a disappointment, but it was simply another reminder that in this competition any side can win on any day if they have enough belief. The Blues made sure of that.


Emirates Lions – tries: Sylvian Mahuza, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Elton Jantjies, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Dylan Smith. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (5)

Blues – tries: Akira Ione, Rieko Ioane (2), Jimmy Tupou, Murphy Taramai. Conversions: Bryn Gatland, Stephen Perofeta (4). Penalties: Bryn Gatland (1)

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