VIDEO: McKenzie breaks Blues' hearts with late try
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: Damian McKenzie’s last-gasp try has earned the Chiefs a thrilling 15-12 victory over the Blues in New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa.
The All Blacks fullback crossed the line with only seconds to go before slotting over the conversion to earn last year’s winless wooden spooners a second win a row after last week’s victory over the Hurricanes.
The Auckland-based Blues had looked set to take the points after Tom Robinson had given his side the lead 18 minutes from time, only for McKenzie to steal the win in the dying seconds at Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium.
Auckland had dominated in terms of possession and penalty count throughout the opening 40 minutes but were unable to turn their superiority into a sizeable half-time lead.
It took until the 24th minute for the visitors to register on the scoreboard when Akira Ioane spun clear to take the ball over the line from close range.
The Blues looked set to add to their total on the half-hour mark as Mark Telea burst towards the line, only for Chiefs fullback McKenzie to throw in a try-saving tackle.
That was one of many frustrating passages of play for the Blues, who declined five kickable penalties in the first half but only managed to put seven points on the board by the interval.
The Blues were to rue not taking those opportunities as the Chiefs swung the game in their favour.
McKenzie’s 46th minute penalty was followed by a try from Samisoni Taukei’aho as the home side took the lead for the first time.
But the Blues fought back, with Robinson driving down the touchline to cross the line despite the desperate attentions of Chiefs’ scrumhalf Brad Weber.
Otere Black missed the conversion having failed with a penalty attempt just moments earlier to keep the Chiefs within touching distance while Dalton Papalii was denied a decisive Blues try due to obstruction.
And with time running out McKenzie swooped to seal a thrilling clash, converting his own try to claim victory.
Man of the match: There were plenty of contenders from both teams. However, the award goes to Chiefs centre Quinn Tupaea, who was simply outstanding in the midfield. He broke the Blues’ defence on numerous occasions with his pace and power.
Tries: Taukei’aho, McKenzie
Tries: Ioane, Robinson
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Quinn Tupaea, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Kaleb Trask, 9 Brad Weber (co-captain), 8 Luke Jacobson, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Samipeni Finau, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 Reuben O’Neill, 19 Simon Parker, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Chase Tiatia.
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tom Robinson, 21 Adrian Choat, 22 Jonathan Ruru, 23 TJ Faiane.
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Angus Mabey
TMO: Aaron Paterson