BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa - A last-minute drop goal from debutant Marnitz Boshoff earned the Golden Lions a shock 21-20 triumph over the Central Cheetahs on Saturday in the opening 2014 Super Rugby match.
The fly-half, playing only because first-choice Elton Jantjies is injured, also succeeded with all six penalty attempts to emerge as the star at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
Few gave the Lions a chance of victory as they returned to the southern hemisphere inter-provincial championship having won a promotion play-off against the Southern Kings.
But the accurate goal-kicking of Boshoff kept them in touch against opponents, who wasted a chance to build a late five-point lead when fly-half Elgar Watts fluffed a kickable penalty.
It was a dismal start for a home side hoping to build on a sixth-place finish last year — their highest — and a narrow play-off loss to Australia's Brumbies.
Replacement Jean Cook did not help the hosts by being sin-binned on 62 minutes.
The home side led 10-9 at half-time.