Blues beat Brumbies 19-21 in a pulsating top-table Super Rugby Pacific clash at GIO Stadium, Canberra.
Beauden Barrett kicked a last-gasp drop goal after the hooter to steal the points in a thrilling Trans-Tasman Super Rugby game in Australia’s capital.
Minutes earlier, Noah Lolesio converted Billy Pollard’s 77th-minute try to edge the Brumbies 19-18 ahead with the clock ticking down.
Beauden Barrett, however, had other ideas as he broke Aussie hearts.
The 30-year-old serial match-winner dropped into the pocket – with no time to play, but a penalty advantage – and slotted a dramatic drop goal.
Cue scenes of joy from the tourists, celebrating while the home fans jeered the referee.
A 12th consecutive win equals the Auckland side’s longest-ever winning streak in the competition dating back to 1997.
This slender victory keeps the Blues on top of the Super Rugby Pacific table. Defeat keeps the Brumbies in third place behind the Crusaders.
The Blues dominated proceedings. Had one looked at the statistics without knowing the score, you would have thought it was a 50-point victory for one side.
Leon McDonald’s side notched an unbelievable 1,178 run-metres to 528 with 64% territory and 70% possession.
The Kiwis had 16 lineouts and 17 scrums to their host’s eight and five respectively.
But this game, despite how close the scoreboard reads, was won and lost due to ill-discipline.
Dan McKellar’s side shipped 16 penalties to five, and it proved costly.
However, referee Damon Murphy might have found a few more for the home side in an anusually uneven penalty count.
Mr Murphy showed two yellow cards to McKellar’s brave side and probably could have sent Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to the bin for a high tackle on Nic White.
Tuivasa-Sheck’s challenge almost certainly stopped White from scoring, and the option of a penalty try and yellow card, or both, had to be on the cards.
Murphy did not award a penalty try or send the centre to the bin. The Brumbies did score though, but the Blues kept 15 men on the field.
Beauden Barrett has the final say at the end of both halves as the Blues edge the Brumbies
Pete Samu and Folau Fainga’a both scored as the Brumbies led 12-8 going into the final quarter of a riveting Super Rugby Pacific match that had all the intensity of a Test match.
The Brumbies survived wave after wave of attacks, defending with 13 men for a long period before halftime, as they kept the blue tide at bay.
Barrett’s 39th Super Rugby try edged the visitors ahead by one at halftime after Stephen Perofeta’s first-quarter goal reduce the deficit to 7-3.
Karl Tu’inukuafe’s 67th-minute converted try put the New Zealanders back in front at 15-12.
Perofeta added a late goal to make it a six-point game before Pollard scored from another bulldozing driving maul.
Noah Lolesio’s second conversion put his side back in front with minutes remaining before Barrett’s gut-wrenching dagger.
The Blues struck late in the half to take a slender one-point lead into the shed after a Titanic defensive effort by the 13-man Brumbies
Barrett crossed after the hooter sounded to put the Blues 8-7 ahead after a monumental defensive effort by the Brumbies.
Samu’s converted try opened the scoring before Perofeta’s penalty and Barrett’s last-gasp score ended a tight, tense half.
McKellar’s men made 108 tackles of 121 as they defended inside their 22 for more than 20 minutes.
Conversely, MacDonald’s men only had to make 39 tackles, most of those coming in the first 15 minutes.
The Kiwis had more than 70% possession and territory in a lop-side half they dominated.
The Brumbies began well, moving into the opposition’s 22 with a 10-phase attack before Tom Wright got tackled into touch.
From the resulting lineout, the home team struck.
Swain stole the opposition’s lineout to set up another good opportunity. The Brumbies recycled quickly before Samu darted over to open the scoring.
Lolesio converted to make it 7-0 after four minutes.
The Blues, through Caleb Clarke, went close, but the Brumbies held firm, holding up the burly winger over the line.
Perofeta raised his bat when he knocked over a 17th-minute penalty to become the first player to 100 points this Super Rugby season.
A 10-minute spell of defending inside the red zone and 22 leads to two yellow cards for the Brumbies
Fainga’a and Swain both received yellow cards after repeated infringements inside their 22, especially on their try line.
The Brumbies spent the better part of 20 minutes inside their 22 as the Blues battered the line. Twelve penalties to one meant people had to go to the bin.
Dalton Papalii and Mark Telea both went close before Telea got held up for a goal-line dropout.
Tuivasa-Sheck was next to be held up over the line as the visitors wasted another chance
After several attacks, Kurt Eklund crashed over for a try, but the TMO ruled it off for a knock-on.
A no-arms tackle by Folau Fainga’a saw the hooker spend 10 minutes on the naughty step.
The Blues kept peppering the line: Penalty. Scrum. Penalty. Lineout. Penalty. Card. Scrum. Penalty. Lineout. Card; something like that.
The Brumbies could not hold on though, despite being back to 14 players when Fainga’a re-entered.
Another penalty led to another couple of scrums before Barrett ghosted through a blindside hole to put the visitors in front at halftime.
A dramatic game finished in five frenetic minutes at the end of a thrilling Trans-Tasman derby
The Canberra men managed to negotiate the two yellow cards impressively. They only conceded five points while down to 14- and- 13 men.
White kick-started a counter-attack from inside his half to the 5m line. Tuivasa-Sheck caught the scrumhalf with a high tackle to give the Brumbies a series of attacking lineouts.
At the second attempt, Fainga’a broke off the marauding rolling maul and dived over for his 33rd Super Rugby try.
Lolesio could not convert, but the capital side was 12-8 up after 56 minutes.
Perofeta pulled a second kick wide of the posts before the half-hour to keep the scores the same.
Another penalty went the Aucklander’s way, this time Barrett booted to the 22 instead of taking a shot. It was the right call.
Eventually, despite desperate defending, the dam wall broke when Tu’inukuafe crashed over under the posts after a sustained attack.
Perofeta’s converted before slotting another goal to edge his side six ahead with five to play.
Pollard scored from a driving maul after the Blues infringed at the breakdown. Lolesio converted from the same spot he earlier missed.
With the clock running down, the Brumbies ceded possession on halfway.
The mistake allowed the visitors to go down the field and set up Barrett for the denouement.
Final Score: Brumbies 19 (7) Blues 21 (8)
Tries – Samu, Fainga’a, Pollard
Con – Lolesio (2)
Cards – Fainga’a (Yellow, 28′), Swain (Yellow, 37′)
Tries – B. Barrett, Tu’inukuafe
Pen – Perofeta (2)
Con – Perofeta
Drop – B. Barrett
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way
TMO: James Leckie
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Luke Reimer, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Billy Pollard, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Rory Scott, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Hudson Creighton, 23 Ollie Sapsford.
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Bryce Heem, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii (captain), 6 Anton Segner, 5 Sam Darry, 4 James Tucker, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Tanielu Tele’a, 23 Zarn Sullivan.