Barrett breaks Brumbies' hearts with late drop goal
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: Beauden Barrett has slotted a drop goal after the full-time siren for the Blues to steal a famous Super Rugby Pacific victory from the Brumbies in Canberra.
The Blues’ 21-19 win – a team record 12th straight victory – moved them further ahead on top of the ladder and all but relegated the Brumbies to third place with one round to play.
The Brumbies went ahead by one with Billy Pollard’s try and Noah Lolesio’s clutch conversion with 70 seconds to play.
The Brumbies won the ball from the restart but lost possession and then watched as the visitors worked towards the posts, winning a penalty despite protests from the hosts before All Blacks playmaker Barrett used the advantage to slot the winner.
The Brumbies were furious at a penalty count 16-5 in the Blues’ favour and at one point had made 95 tackles to the Blues’ 38.
The hosts had shot out of the blocks though and led 7-0 after Pete Samu found a patch of grass to plant the ball in the second minute.
But it was all the Blues after that, the Auckland outfit applying immense pressure as they threatened to reply.
But it remained that way for almost 40 minutes, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck one of three would-be Blues scorers held up over the line.
Kurt Eklund thought he’d broken the drought but had his try was disallowed for a knock-on, that decision triggering a yellow card for Brumbies hooker Folau Fainga’a for repeated infringements.
Darcy Swain soon followed to leave the Brumbies with just 13 players, but again they held firm until Barrett crossed for a try off a scrum after the half-time siren.
Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White turned the tide after the break with a sharp intercept, running 80 metres before Fainga’a scored soon after from a maul to put the hosts back in front.
Blues wing Caleb Clarke limped off with a hamstring injury and the usually-reliable Blues goalkicker Stephen Perofeta then missed a penalty to go with an earlier failed conversion.
But they kept coming, Karl Tu’inukuafe coming up with the ball in traffic close to the line and popping over to put the Blues back in front with 14 minutes to play.
Perofeta found his range with a penalty to make it a six-point game inside the final five minutes.
Pollard scored his late try off a trademark Brumbies line-out and maul and Lolesio snuck his conversion inside the right post to put them up by one with 70 seconds to play before the Blues pulled off their great escape.
Tries: Samu, Fainga’a, Pollard
Cons: Lolesio 2
Tries: Barrett, Tu’inukuafe
Pens: Perofeta 2
Yellow cards: Folau Fainga’a (Brumbies, 29′); Darcy Swain (Brumbies, 37′)
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 Tom Robinson, 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 Anton Segner, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Tanielu Tele’a, 23 Zarn Sullivan.
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner & Jordan Way
TMO: James Leckie