Jean Claude Iranzi scored with 10 minutes from time to help APR come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 goalsagainst archrivals Rayon Sport in a rescheduled Primus National Football League match played at Amahoro Stadium on Sunday.
Rayon Sport, playing as the home team despite their home ground being in Nyanza, took a 2-0 lead through Faudi Ndayisenga and Jerome Sina in the 49th and 65th minutes, respectively.
But the champions, despite missing several key players through injuries, rallied to snatch a point through goals from Isaac Muganza and Iranzi in a space of three minutes to deny the Blues a memorable win.
Both sides, separated by one place and one point before kick off, came out with purpose to secure all three points and it increasingly looked like Rayon were destined to take the day. But former SC Kiyovu midfielder Iranzi had other ideas, setting up Muganza in the 77th minute with a corner, before he hit the equalizer on 79 minutes from 25 yards.
The two sides came into the match needing to win and improve their standing in the league table, with both languishing in mid table.
Both teams were poor in first half but exploded in the second half with Rayon showing more hunger to win and when they raced into a two goal advantage, it all looked easy until Iranzi stepped up to rescue the champions, who are seeking a record extending 14th league title.
The match started slowly, but after just three minutes, APR got good opportunity after a good combination play involving Tumaine Ntamuhanga and Albert Ngabo; but Bernabe Mubumbyi failed to hit the target.
Iranzi, who was Rayon's biggest threat on the day, tried on several occasions with long range attempts but with little success in a dull opening 45 minutes. Rayon Sport were slightly the better side with Kambale Salite missing two half chances to put his team ahead.
Iranzi, Ngabo and Hertier Turatsinze of APR were booked, while Rayon skipper Karim Nizigiyimana and midfielder Abuba Sibomana also went into the ref's book.
Striker Mubumbyi had the best chance to put APR in the lead but missed to connect with a clever pass from Ntamuhanga and his team paid for that when Burundian international Ndayisenga punished Jean Claude Ndoli's mistake, and 15 minutes later Sina made it 2-0.
However, with no love lost between the two old rivals and blood boiling high after Rayon took the lead, Aphrodis Hategekimana and Emery Bayisenge went at each other and they had to be separated by referee Hudu Munyemana.
Rwanda's top ref again intervened when Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza clashed with Rayon keeper Marcel Nzarora after APR scored their first goal and the keeper tried to hold on to the ball yet APR players were eager for a quick restart.
It was the second meeting between the two traditional rivals in just over a week. APR beat Rayon 3-1 to lift the Rwandese Patriotic Front's 25th anniversary tournament trophy on December 18.
The draw leaves APR and Rayon stuck in 6th and 7th positions, respectively. Surprise package AS Kigali will end the year at the top of the league with 21 points in ten matches, Police and Kiyovu follow with 19 points, while Etincelles lay bottom of the standings with five points.