Waratahs' comeback stuns Blues in Sydney
The Blues were left wondering where it all went wrong as they squandered a 14-point halftime advantage to lose their second Super Rugby game in a row in Sydney this evening.
The Waratahs came charging back from a 24-10 halftime deficit to steal an unlikely 30-27 victory with an 80th-minute penalty from nerveless five-eighth Bernard Foley.
It was a much-needed fillip for the Tahs after they had dropped three of their first four games, though Blues coach Sir John Kirwan will be scratching his head after his team managed just three second-half points to succumb to a disappointing defeat.
"Individually we made too many mistakes. It was very frustrating," said Blues skipper Ali Williams.
"When you get to Sydney it's a hard battle. Sometimes you think it can just happen, but you've got to go back to basics, and I think we were guilty of that."
The Blues had looked well in control at halftime, but they lacked the organisation and ability to close the game down over the run home as the Waratahs hauled them in with two big tries and Foley's key three-pointer at the death.
It was the Blues' kind of first half - fast and furious and a little bit disorganised - and it was no surprise to see them so far in front at halftime.
Kirwan's men ran in three tries to one in the opening 40 and took a firm grip on the game with their ability to finish the chances that came their way.
The Tahs struck first, with wing Drew Mitchell finishing a nicely constructed move to take the homes side out to 7-3 around the six-minute mark.
But then the Blues hit their stride. Hooker James Parsons finished a bizarre try after his throw to a lineout was intercepted by the Tahs, only for Culum Retallick to pounce on loose ball and offload to his No 2 for a clean run to the line.
After the Tahs levelled at 10-10, it was Blues five-eighth Chris Noakes who struck next to edge the visitors out to 17-10 after the heady playmaker punished the hosts' defence for drifting on him.
The lead grew to 14 by the break when Blues fullback Charles Piutau applied the finishing touch after replacement Tahs halfback Matt Lucas had made a mess of a kick into clean territory.
But the Tahs were far from done. Israel Folau finished a nice break from Foley down the middle and then Foley himself applied the final touches to a move opened up by Rob Horne to level the scores at 24-24.
Penalties were then traded, before Foley stepped up to apply the finishing touches when the Blues infringed under pressure at the death.
The Blues picked up a losing bonus point to move level with the Crusaders in the standings, but will be ruing the three they left on the paddock with a flat second half.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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