Super Rugby
Blues upset Brumbies in Auckland cliffhanger
ESPN Staff
April 10, 2015
Report Match details
Date/Time: Apr 10, 2015, 19:35 local, 07:35 GMT
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Blues 16 - 14 Brumbies
Half-time: 13 - 0
Tries: Bowden
Cons: Bowden
Pens: Bowden 2, West
Tries: Taliauli
Pens: Leali'ifano 3
The Blues' Dan Bowden attacks the defensive line, Blues v Brumbies, Auckland, April 10, 2015
The Blues' Dan Bowden takes the line on
© Getty Images
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The Blues have scrapped their way to an upset win over the Brumbies in Auckland, ending a run of seven straight defeats in 2015.

A late sideline penalty from replacement fly-half Ihaia West looked to have secured the Blues a drought-breaking win but they were forced to endure a post-siren attempt from Brumbies halfback Nic White in one final moment of false hope. White's long-range attempt drifted wide however, giving the Blues a dramatic, if nerve-testing triumph.

"We got off to a great start but in the second half we got a bit defensive," Blues skipper Jerome Kaino said. "But I was proud of the way the boys fought at the end there."

The Blues survive a late scare to record a 16-14 win over the Brumbies (Australia only)

The Blues went within a whisker of a try just two minutes in as they retained possession and slowly moved their way up field. Fly-half Dan Bowden eventually dropped a perfect cross-kick over to winger Frank Halai who offloaded to Charles Piutau, but the fullback was forced to kick ahead himself and the Brumbies managed to clean up behind their own goal-line. The hosts did open the scoring a short while later with Bowden kicking a penalty following a David Pocock infringement.

Bowden then added a second penalty on 17 minutes after hitting the post with his second attempt; the hosts dominating both possession and territory in the opening stages as the Brumbies struggled to get their hands on the ball.

After conceding five straight penalties to start the match, the Brumbies were finally awarded one of their own affording inside-centre Christian Leali'ifano the chance to reduce the gap. But the inside-centre pulled his attempt wide from right in front and that miss was compounded by the loss Matt Toomua, the playmaker forced off with an ankle injury.

Despite their early dominance, the Blues had shown little to suggest their attacking woes may be about to come to an end until centre George Moala burst through in midfield. Skipper Kaino then thundered onto some front-foot ball only for the play to break down just short of the Brumbies' line.

The visitors failed to clear their quarter however and were finally made to pay the price when Bowden sliced through from close range to touch down for the game's first five-pointer. The Blues fly-half slipped on the outside of Henry Speight and extended his arm to get the ball down; he then added the extras to give the Blues a 13-0 lead, an advantage they held at half-time.

The Brumbies looked the more threatening early in the second half and they were rewarded for some promising play when Leali'ifano converted a penalty from right in front. But the stop-start nature of the first-half continued as both sides continued to feel the wrath of referee Andrew Lees.

After spending much of the first stanza on the back foot, the Brumbies finally found themselves inside the Blues' quarter and, after peppering the hosts' line for over 20 phases, White threw a wide pass to Liausii Taliauli for the game's second try. Leali'ifano was unable to add the extras from out by the touchline but the momentum had shifted with the Brumbies finally finding some rhythm.

A lost lineout on their own throw soon turned things the Blues' way however as they worked the turnover into the Brumbies' half. A clever kick from halfback Jamison Gibson-Park found space in behind the Brumbies and very nearly resulted in a try to winger Melani Nanai. But the bouncing ball beat him into touch on 62 minutes.

The Brumbies' Matt Toomua is forced from the field, Blues v Brumbies, Auckland, April 10, 2015
The Brumbies' Matt Toomua was forced from the field © Getty Images
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As has been the case throughout the Super Rugby season, the scrums were a lottery at Eden Park and the Brumbies were the beneficiaries a short while later when Blues prop Angus Taavao was penalised for collapsing. Leali'ifano was successful with the attempt to reduce the score to 13-11, setting up a tense final 12 minutes.

The visitors were then gifted a golden attacking opportunity when a loose Blues pass was picked up by James Dargaville, the winger charging down field only to be brought down in a fine tackle from Kaino. The Brumbies moved the ball quickly from the breakdown but a loose pass of their own resulted in a knock-on from replacement prop Ruan Smith, and the Blues survived.

But it was only a momentarily reprieve as the Brumbies powered forward from a rolling maul and drew a penalty which Leali'ifano slotted to wrestle the lead for the first time.

Desperately searching for their first win of the campaign, the Blues managed to work their way into the Brumbies' half for Moala to find space down the left touchline. The hosts won a penalty which West, not long on the field, slotted superbly only for there to be one final twist - White's failed attempt.

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