Marnitz Boshoff kicked 22 points as Golden Lions defeated Northern Bulls for the first time in Super Rugby with a 32-21 victory on Saturday.
The 25-year-old fly-half slotted two conversions, four penalties and two drop goals at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
It was the fourth time Boshoff has contributed more than 20 points this season and raised his tally to 170 — bettered only by the 192 of Wellington Hurricanes’ Beauden Barrett.
A shock victory in the Highveld derby lifted the Lions off the bottom of the table to 13th after halting a run of seven consecutive Super 15 losses.
Defeat virtually ended the already slim play-offs hopes of the ninth-place Bulls, whose seven away matches this season have all ended in defeat.
The Pretoria franchise need bonus-point victories over the Melbourne Rebels (home) and fellow-South Africans Western Stormers (away) during July to have any hope of making the knockout phase.
It was difficult to believe the Lions had lost seven southern hemisphere provincial championship matches in a row as they harassed the favoured Bulls throughout.
Under intense pressure, the visitors committed infringements, and the recently subdued Boshoff was back to best, potting all six shots at the posts.
Trailing 29-9 with 10 minutes left, the Bulls staged a late rally which produced two tries, but hopes of a losing bonus point were dashed by a last-minute Boshoff penalty.
Boshoff had points on the board within 93 seconds of the kick-off with easily the ugliest of his eight drop goals this season.
Forced to use his weaker left foot from close range, he barely connected with the ball, but the kick skimmed the crossbar and the Lions were ahead.
Although coming off second best territorially and at set pieces, the Lions’ harrying enabled Boshoff to kick two penalties, before two from rival playmaker Jacques-Louis Potgieter narrowed the gap to 9-6 by half-time.
Tries from centre Alwyn Hollenbach and flank Warwick Tecklenburg plus two conversions, a penalty and a drop goal by Boshoff stretched the advantage to 20 points.
As the herculean efforts of the Lions began to take their toll, replacement back William Small-Smith and flank Jacques du Plessis scored tries, one of which Potgieter converted for a 11-point tally.