The Hurricanes pipped the Blues 32-33 in a sensational Super Rugby Pacific match at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin.
The Hurricanes clawed back a three-score 32-14 deficit to edge a shell-shocked Blues by one after a pulsating Super Rugby contest under the roof in Otago.
Salesi Rayasi starred with a hat-trick for the Hurricanes, including two late tries to set up a thrilling ending.
Ardie Savea’s memorable try in the dying seconds saw his team overturn an 18-point deficit in the last nine minutes of the game.
The teams scored nine tries between them as the game see-sawed back and forth; it will go down as a modern-day Super Rugby classic.
Jordie Barrett and Ruben Love both kicked two important conversions apiece.
Kurt Eklund scored twice on either side of Caleb Clarke’s try, and Sam Darry also touched down for Leon MacDonald’s men.
The Blues, however, stole defeat from the jaws of victory in a hard-fought New Zealand Super Rugby derby on the South Island.
Harry Plummer kicked two penalties and three conversions for 12 points, but his missed kicks proved the difference in the end.
Rayasi (three) and Wes Goosen dotted down for the men in yellow before Savea broke Blues hearts.
Eklund bagged a brace of tries from two destructive Blues’ driving mauls, and Clarke added a third as the Blues led at halftime.
Plummer added nine points from the tee, missing once.
Barrett converted Rayasi and Goosen’s tries to keep the Hurricanes in the contest.
Soon after the restart, an early Plummer penalty increased his side’s advantage to 13 points.
After halftime, the game broke up as the mistakes increased, leaving both coaches frustrated with the second-half display.
However, after Darry’s score looked to have settled to match, all manner of carnage ensued as the Canes struck three times to claim the points.
The Blues took a deserved 24-14 lead into the shed after a thrilling three tries to two first stanza in Otago
Plummer opened the scoring as the Blues dominated territory and possession (almost 90% at inside the opening half-hour), but he missed a chance to double the lead soon afterwards.
The Blues had several opportunities, but the Hurricanes kept them out with some dogged defence.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who had a magnificient debut, almost put Rieko Ioane under the posts, but the Canes stood firm.
A 14-phase attack ended when Tuivasa-Sheck’s forward pass chalked off a walk-over try.
Zarn Sullivan’s floated pass was intercepted by Rayasi, who raced 50 metres from halfway to score under the posts.
Barrett converted to give Jason Holland’s men a shock lead against the run of play.
Eklund crshed over from a powerful driving maul to put the Auckland team back in front. Plummer converted to make it 10-7 after 24 minutes.
A superb attack ended with Clarke dotting down by the posts after sublime play by Plummer, Tuivasa-Sheck, and Zarn Sullivan to increase the lead.
The Blues’ 10-point lead was cut to three after a stunning attack by Holland’s charges just after the half-hour mark.
Barrett’s linebreak in midfield set up the Canes inside the Blues’ 22.
The Auckland cover defence was again breached after Goosen grabbed his 26th Super Rugby try in the righthand corner after collecting Bailyn Sullivan’s deft grubber.
But the Blues struck again just before the break. Another rolling maul, executed perfectly, saw Eklund claim his second score of the game and ninth Super Rugby five-pointer.
Plummer’s conversion extended the lead to 10.
The Hurricanes almost had a third score of their own, but a 10-phase attack and a lineout after the hooter inside the opposition’s 22, went begging due to poor handling.
A crazy ending to a fantastic Super Rugby contest leaves the Blues stunned
Plummer knocked over his second goal six minutes after halftime to make it 27-14.
It would be the only points of the third quarter despite both teams having a couple of chances for five-pointers.
Both teams’ handling proved costly as the errors mounted.
Mark Telea, with two errors, one kicking out of hand into touch and a knock-on put an end to two promising counter-attacks.
Finlay Christie’s smart work at the back of the Canes’ scrum, knocking the ball out of Jamie Booth’s hands, saved a try-scoring opportunity for the Wellington side.
Marcel Renata and Telea both went close before James Doleman asked the TMO to check – and award – Darry a try.
Plummer’s kick hit the post but was not succesful – It would prove decisive.
Rayasi had a second try moments later to kick-start the Hurricanes’ comeback.
Minutes later, the 25-year-old secured his hat-trick with a stunning finish in the corner to set up the improbable finale.
Savea brothers start and finish game-winning goal-to-goal try
With seconds remaining, Julian Savea won possession inside his 22 from the restart; he broke several tackles to get to his 10m.
The Hurricanes shifted the ball to the left before bringing it back right. Ben May’s deft pass sent Bailyn Sullivan through a big hole.
Sullivan fended off Tuivasa-Sheck’s high challenge and raced into enemy territory. The 23-year-old drew Stephen Perofeta and sent Savea down the touchline.
The skipper slipped Telea’s tackle and cut inside to beat Sam Nock to score under the sticks. Incredible!
Love won the game with his conversion after the siren, leaving no time for another play.
Final Score: Blues 32 (24) Hurricanes 33 (14)
Tries – Eklund (2), Clarke, Darry
Pen – Plummer (2)
Con – Plummer (3)
Tries – Rayasi (3), Goosen, A. Savea
Con – J. Barrett (2), Love (2)
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 1: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 2: Marcus Playle
TMO: Chris Hart
15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Tom Robinson (captain), 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Sam Darry, 20 Anton Segner, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Tanielu Tele’a
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Bailyn Sullivan, 12 Julian Savea, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Justin Sangster, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Pouri Rakete-Stones
Replacements: 16 Jacob Devery, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Ben May, 19 Devan Flanders, 20 Brayden Iose, 21 Richard Judd, 22 Ruben Love, 23 Peter Umaga-Jensen