VIDEO: Folau record not enough to stop Blues
SUPER RUGBY MATCH REPORT: Wallabies star Israel Folau broke the all-time record for tries, but it was not enough to earn the Waratahs victory against the Blues.
It was the resurgent Blues who celebrated at the final whistle, with a 32-29 victory, to complete four consecutive wins for the first time since 2011.
The teams scored four tries each, but in a nailbiting finish it was a couple of Otere Black penalties that proved the difference.
Folau broke the record the Super Rugby record when he scored for the Waratahs midway through the first half in Auckland on Saturday.
The prolific fullback surpassed Doug Howlett’s 59 during his stints at the Highlanders, Hurricanes, and Blues between 1997-2007, with the New Zealander – who retired 12 years ago – needing 104 games to reach his target.
In contrast, Folau set the new mark in his 96th match and will likely run away with the record, having recently signed a new four-year deal with his franchise until the end of 2022, putting to bed any concerns that he may move overseas.
The Blues had raced to a 17-0 lead – with tries to Tom Robinson and Caleb Clarke and an Otere Black penalty – when Folau swung the momentum the Waratahs’ way with his try.
The record-breaking try came from a Bernard Foley cross-kick which Folau plucked out of the air to score and give the Waratahs much-needed points with the Blues leading 17-7.
Will Miller scored just on half-time to close the gap to 17-14.
In the second half, both sides cancelled each other out – with Thomas Faiane and Ma’a Nonu scoring for the Blues and Black adding a penalty, while Alex Newsome and Jake Gordon scored for the Waratahs with a penalty from Bernard Foley.
Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu said while four wins in a row were satisfying, letting a 17-point lead slip showed there is a lot of room for improvement.
“I’m proud of the way we came back in the last 10 [minutes] to hold them out,” Tuipulotu said.
“There’s still plenty to work on if we want to get better,” he added.
Super Rugby’s all-time leading try scorers:
60 – Israel Folau (Waratahs)
59 – Doug Howlett (Blues 55, Highlanders 3, Hurricanes 1)
58 – Caleb Ralph (Crusaders 52, Blues 3, Chiefs 3)
57 – Joe Roff (Brumbies)
56 – Christian Cullen (Hurricanes); Bryan Habana (Bulls 37, Stormers 19); Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies 48, Rebels 8)
51 – Ma’a Nonu (Hurricanes 44, Blues 5, Highlanders 2)
50 – Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
49 – Thomas Perenara (Hurricanes)
48 – Tana Umaga (Hurricanes 47, Chiefs 1)
Man of the match: Ma’a Nonu again put his hand up for an All Black recall, while Akira Ioane was all aggression up front. However, our award goes to the record breaker – Waratahs and Wallaby utility back Israel Folau.
For the Blues:
Tries: Robinson, Clarke, Faiane, Nonu
Cons: Black 3
Pens: Black 2
For the Waratahs:
Tries: Folau, Miller, Newsome, Gordon
Cons: Foley 3
SUPER RUGBY RECAP: Blues v Waratahs
Did you miss any of the action? Recap all the drama here!
Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Caleb Clarke, 13 Thomas Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson (co-captain), 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (co-captain), 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1. Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Michael Collins.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Tuala, 17 Rory O’Connor, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Lachlan Swinton, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Lalakai Foketi.
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)