Auckland Super Rugby franchise the Blues completed their successful two match tour of Australia by beating the Waratahs 33-40 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
The Waratahs had won their last six matches at home in Sydney against the Blues so the result is the first Blues victory in the city since February 2003.
The Waratahs outscored the Blues by five tries to four in the match but trailed by 26 points at half time and went on to win the second half by 33 points to 14 which earned them a losing bonus point.
Rieko Ioane scored two tries for the Blues and Akira Ioane scored one. The other Blues try was scored by Scott Scrafton.
Israel Folau scored a brace of tries for the Waratahs. Bernard Foley and Tolu Latu also crossed for the Sydney franchise. Will Skelton had a try disallowed in the closing minutes but then in extra time Paddy Ryan scored the fifth and final Waratahs try.
Despite the victory the Blues remain last in the New Zealand Conference with 26 points but this is eight more points than Australia’s leading team the Brumbies who have 18 points.
Last week the Blues beat the Brumbies in Canberra 12-18 so the last placed New Zealand team has beaten the top two Australian teams over the last eight days.
The visitors were the first side to get up on the scoreboard, the points coming from the boot of Piers Francis at the four minute mark.
A second and a third penalty conversion had the New South Welshman nine points down at the 20 minute mark.
Tries from Blues winger Reiko Ioane and lock Scott Scrafton, plus a penalty conversion from Piers Francis left the NSW Waratahs trailing by 26 points heading into the break.
In just over 60 seconds into the second half, fullback Israel Folau made his way over the line for his 200th Super Rugby point and the Tah’s first try of the night.
After immense amounts of pressure on the Blues’ line once again, featuring a 15+ phase attacking effort, returned hooker Tolu Latu put up a five pointer for the home side in the 57th minute.
Fly-half Bernard Foley was the next to cross the line, quickly converting his own try to bring the score to 19-40 with ten left on the clock.
Dean Mumm was held up over the line as he sought to reduce the gap, which paved the way for replacement utility back Bryce Hegarty to sneak a grubber in behind the defence for Israel Folau to bag a double.
Lock Will Skelton was denied a try just before the siren through a TMO review which saw him lose control of the ball on the way down to grounding it.
Not long after the final hooter sounded Paddy Ryan made amends for Skelton’s dropped ball with a try of his own, with Foley’s conversion bringing the final score to 33-40 in favour of the visitors from Auckland.
Head Coach Daryl Gibson summed up the round eleven performance.
“It certainly shows in the second half, when we get on the front foot and we get good go forward ball and we are disciplined with our ball control… we can be an excellent side.”
Next week in Round 12 the Blues are back at home in Auckland where they will host South Africa’s Cheetahs while the Waratahs have a bye and then face the Rebels at home in Sydney in Round 13.
Final Score Waratahs 33 (0) Blues 40 (26)
Tries – I.Folau 2, T.Latu, B Foley, P.Ryan
Con – B.Foley 4
Tries – R.Ioane 2, S.Scrafton, A Ioane
Pen – P.Francis 4
Con – P.Francis 4
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1:Will Houston
Assistant Ref 2:Graham Cooper
TMO : George Ayoub
Israel Folau, Reece Robinson, Rob Horne, David Horwitz, Cam Clark, Bernard Foley, Jake Gordon, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper (capt), Ned Hanigan, David McDuling, Dean Mumm, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Tom Robertson.
Replacements: Hugh Roach, Paddy Ryan, Angus Taavao, Will Skelton, Michael Wells, Nick Phipps, Bryce Hegarty, Irae Simone.
1 Pauliasi Manu, 2 James Parsons ©, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 5 Scott Scrafton, 6 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 8 Akira Ioane; 9 Augustine Pulu, 10 Piers Francis, 11 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 13. George Moala, 14 Matt Duffie, 15 Michael Collins.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Leighton Price, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Melani Nanai.