Madosh Tambwe of Lions scores the winning try ahead of Duncan Matthews of Bulls during the Supersport Rugby Challenge match between Lions and Bulls on 23 June 2017 at Orlando Stadium. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

SOWETO – Golden Lions replacement Madosh Tambwe scored two late tries to clinch a remarkable comeback 55-49 win over the Blue Bulls at Orlando Stadium on Friday. 

What an incredible contest this was. 

The Lions trailed 16-0 early on, and by as many as 22 points in the final quarter, but four late tries completed an amazing fightback. 

With the top two teams in each of the North, Central and South Sections guaranteed automatic qualification to the final eight, the Lions made sure of their spot at the top of the North section, while the Bulls remain in second spot and should still sneak through to the knockout stage. 

The Lions were their own worst enemy in the opening quarter, which saw them concede as many as eight penalties during an ill-disciplined start to the encounter. 

Three of those were successfully kicked to goal by Bulls flyhalf Tian Schoeman, who opened up a 9-0 lead early on, while the Lions’ Armand van der Merwe was eventually sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements. In his absence, the Bulls immediately struck when big Pierre Schoeman burst over the tryline from the back of a driving lineout, although this score was quickly cancelled out by influential Lions flanker Kwagga Smith, who dotted down under the posts.

Nevertheless, the Bulls continued to play with confidence and plenty of attacking intent, with exciting fullback Duncan Matthews darting over to score just before the half-an-hour mark. Despite spending mostof the first half on the back foot, there was a slight opening for the Lions when Bulls hooker Jaco Visagie was shown a yellow card for a cynical offence, and in his absence, the returning Van der Merwe went over to score.  

That five-pointer reduced the deficit to 11 points, while Reynolds slotted his first penalty just before the break to make it an eight-point ball game heading into the second half. It remained that way soon after the restart as first the Lions scored a converted try through Lourens Erasmus, while the Bulls were then awarded a penalty try almost immediately after. 

With the Lions’ Jacques van Rooyen having also been shown a yellow card for a cynical offence in the lead-up to the penalty try, the Bulls made their opponents pay as Andre Warner and Dries Swanepoel went over to score to extend the score to 44-22. However, the two teams’ poor discipline continued as Schoeman was sent to the sin bin for a trip, and while the Lions' Jacques van Rooyen scored soon after, the Bulls hit back as Jaco Visagie was the next to go over to score. 

At 49-29, there seemed to be no way back for the Lions, but replacement Marvin Orie then went over to score, while the Bulls' Shaun Adendorff was yellow-carded next for a cynical offence. To make matters worse for the Bulls, the Lions were then almost immediately awarded a penalty try when a high tackle prevented a certain score.

It suddenly cut the deficit to six points with eight minutes still to play, while Tambwe continued the incredible comeback as he rounded a defender to score next to the posts, but Reynolds missed the simple conversion to leave the Bulls clinging onto a one-point lead.  Yet, with the final play of the game, Tambwe struck again to send the Lions into celebrations, and leave the Bulls completely stunned.  

Scorers: 
Lions 55 (15): 

Tries: Kwagga Smith, Armand van der Merwe, Lourens Erasmus, Jacques van Rooyen, Marvin Orie, penalty try, Madosh Tambwe (2). Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (5). 
Penalty: Reynolds. 
Bulls 49 (23): 
Tries: Pierre Schoeman, Duncan Matthews, penalty try, Andre Warner, Dries Swanepoel, Jaco Visagie. 
Conversions: Tian Schoeman (4). 
Penalties: Schoeman (3). 
African News Agency