Four-try Tambwe equals Super Rugby record as Lions roar

Michael Little of the Sunwolves (C) dives to score a try during the Super Rugby union match between the Sunwolves of Japan and the Waratahs of Australia

Johannesburg (AFP) – Winger Madosh Tambwe scored a record-equalling four tries in a Super Rugby match as the Golden Lions crushed Western Stormers 52-31 in Johannesburg Saturday. 

The 20-year-old born in the Democratic Republic of Congo — a country that does not have a national rugby team — matched the feats of 15 other players since 1996.

He took just 54 seconds to score before a 22,000 crowd, completed his hat-trick within 13 minutes and added a fourth try 12 minutes into the second half of the South African derby.

Earlier, Australian sides New South Wales Waratahs and ACT Brumbies won convincingly and Waikato Chiefs edged Auckland Blues in a New Zealand derby.

Waratahs hammered the Japanese Sunwolves 50-29 in Tokyo, Brumbies beat compatriots Queensland Reds 45-21 in Canberra and a penalty try earned Chiefs a 21-19 win over Blues in Hamilton.

Tambwe is the second player to score four tries in a match this year after Ben Lam of Wellington Hurricanes, who also operates on the left wing.

The Lions winger, who left DR Congo capital Kinshasa at an early age to be educated in Johannesburg, refused to take any credit for his remarkable achievement. 

“It is entirely due to my team-mates that I got those try-scoring opportunities this evening,”  said the man-of-the-match award winner.

“I am privileged to be part of the Golden Lions Super Rugby squad and grateful for every opportunity the coaching staff give me.”

Tambwe began the season as a third-choice winger, but injuries to Courtnall Skosan and Aphiwe Dyantyi gave him a chance. 

Lions skipper Franco Mostert said: “We wanted the victory more than the Stormers did and the ball bounced our way.”

Stormers captain Siya Kolisi was brutally frank: “I let myself and my team down. My performance as a leader was poor.” 

The Tambwe hat-trick helped the Lions lead 31-10 at half-time and they scored regularly in the second half to bounce back after three losses in their previous four matches.

Stormers have lost all five away matches this season, including three on a tour of Australasia.

Lions top the South Africa conference with 25 points, Coastal Sharks have 14, Stormers 13, Northern Bulls nine and the Argentine Jaguares eight.

After leading 19-14 at half-time, Blues kept the dominant Chiefs scoreless until six minutes from time when several resets of a scrum led to the home team being awarded a penalty try.

“We created plenty of opportunities throughout the game but, gee, we didn’t finish many,” said relieved Chiefs skipper Sam Cane.

“What was pleasing was we didn’t get too frustrated — the composure in the last 15 (minutes) was pretty pleasing.”

Victory lifted Chiefs to second in the New Zealand conference, two points behind Hurricanes, with title-holders Canterbury Crusaders third ahead of a match in Argentina later Saturday.

Reds looked on course for a double over Brumbies this season when they built a 15-point advantage only to collapse and the hosts scored the last six tries of the match.

“We made it tough early, but really proud of the boys to really stick it out. It was really sloppy from us at the start,” said Brumbies skipper Christian Lealiifano.

A couple of tries just before half-time pulled Waratahs clear of Sunwolves, who suffered a sixth straight defeat this season and a 32nd in 36 Super Rugby games since a 2016 debut.

Melbourne Rebels, who had a round 8 bye, top the Australia conference with 20 points, Waratahs have 19, Brumbies 14, Reds 13 and Sunwolves two.