Johannesburg - Former Springbok flyhalf André Pretorius put on an exhibition with the boot as he kicked the Leopards XV to an unexpected 33-26 (half time 9-16) win over the Blue Bulls in their Vodacom Cup match at the Loftus B field in Pretoria on Saturday.
The flyhalf contributed 23 valuable points, as he was successful with eight of his nine attempts at posts.
The win sees the Leopards up to second place in the Northern Section standings, and on course for a spot in the playoffs, albeit with three games still to play.
Despite matching their opponents on the try-scorer's sheet, the home side slumped to their second defeat of the campaign and now find themselves down in fourth place.
Flyhalf Tony Jantjies had set the Blue Bulls off on the right foot, as he slotted a penalty in just the third minute of the game. Pretorius cancelled it out with a penalty of his own 10 minutes later, but Jantjies put some daylight between his side and the Leopards with two further penalties by the time the 25-minute mark was reached.
Pretorius's second penalty of the day was quickly overshadowed by eighth-man Jean Cook's try just three minutes before half-time, and the hosts appeared well on top at that stage.
However, the ever-present Pretorius was again on hand to take advantage of a silly penalty given away by the Blue Bulls in the final seconds of the half, and for all their dominance, the home side enjoyed just a seven-point lead at the break.
The men from Pretoria appeared to put things right when play resumed, as flanker Roelof Smit crossed the whitewash within three minutes of the restart, and the ensuing conversion from Jantjies took his team out to a commanding 23-9 lead.
However, the momentum of the match completely shifted from that point onward, and Pretorius got his side back in the game with three penalties in the space of eight minutes.
It got worse for the home side though, as flanker Rhyk Welgemoed capped off some relentless pressure with a try to level the scores in the 62nd minute.
Jantjies briefly restored his side's advantage with a penalty five minutes later, but a converted try from eighth-man Morné Hanekom gave the visitors the lead for the first time, and Pretorius's seventh penalty of the afternoon three minutes from time all but sealed an impressive win for the Leopards.
Tries: Jean Cook, Roelof Smit
Conversions: Tony Jantjies (2)
Penalties: Tony Jantjies (4)
Tries: Rhyk Welgemoed, Morné Hanekom
Conversion: André Pretorius
Penalties: Pretorius (7)
Vodacom Cup results this weekend:
South Western Districts 22-26 Sharks XV
Griffons 30-19 Golden Lions
Griquas 31-47 Pumas
Free State XV 13-17 Eastern Province Kings
Limpopo 7-69 Falcons
Blue Bulls 26-33 Leopards XV
Western Province 22-13 Border Bulldogs
Boland Cavaliers 23-65 Pampas