Pretoria - The Blue Bulls turned in a strong second-half performance on their way to a 22-20 (half-time 7-17) win over the Golden Lions in their Vodacom Cup North Section match at Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria, on Saturday.
The three-time champion Bulls, who had lost their first two games of this year's competition, came back from 13 points down to eke out a win with replacement flyhalf Tony Jantjies kicking the winning penalty goal in the 65th minute.
The Bulls outscored their opponents by three tries to two to clinch the win despite being outplayed for much of the first half.
The Bulls opened the scoring in the 11th minute when eighthman Clyde Davids forced his way over for a try after the Bulls had won a turnover at a ruck.
However, the Golden Lions struck back just six minutes later when flank Cyle Brink forced his way over the tryline despite a pile of defenders seemingly in his way.
The visitors then scored the try of the match through right wing Vainon Willis after a move that started in the Lions' 22-metre area.
Fullback Chrysander Botha spilt the Bulls' defence before shifting the ball to Willis who showed a good turn of pace to outstrip the cover defence as his 50-metre run ended in a converted try.
Golden Lions' flyhalf Elton Jantjies put the Lions into a 17-7 half-time lead with a successful penalty kick shortly before the end of the half.
The Lions opened the second-half scoring through an Elton Jantjies penalty, but the Bulls slowly fought their way back into the contest.
They narrowed the gap to eight points, in the 52nd minute, when right wing Clayton Blommetjies stepped his way over for an unconverted try.
The gap was down to just one point eight minutes later when Bulls fullback Jaco Kriel charged down an attempted clearance kick, before being on hand to take a scoring pass and going over for a converted try. Later, Tony Jantjies' successful penalty secured the victory.
Blue Bulls: Clyde Davids, Clayton Blommetjies, Jesse Kriel; Conversions: Louis Fouche, Tony Jantjies; Penalty: Tony Jantjies.
Golden Lions: Tries: Cyle Brink, Vainon Willis; Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2); Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2).