Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has now scored the most tries in Super Rugby history. Picture: Getty Images
Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has now scored the most tries in Super Rugby history. Picture: Getty Images

Blues pip Waratahs in thriller

Two losses in succession, and four from seven games overall leaves the Waratahs vulnerable heading into their bye.

NSW were defeated 32-29 by the Blues at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday night, ensuring they'll not be able to take the lead of the Australian conference for at least another fortnight.

"It's disappointing to be close like that and not get it," NSW captain Bernard Foley said.

NSW never held the lead in the match, but would not allow their opponents to run away.

As has been the case throughout their year so far, poor execution and decision-making ultimately cost them victory.

 

BLUE WALL

As the Blues pressed forward in the 15th minute, shouts of "Wall, wall" could be heard from the Waratahs defensive line.

This was referencing the "Blue Wall" the Tahs have been seeking to build, a mantra for what they hope their defensive line is known as.

 

Caleb Clarke slices through the Waratahs defence. Picture: Getty Images
Caleb Clarke slices through the Waratahs defence. Picture: Getty Images

 

But as Blues winger Caleb Clarke strolled through the middle of the defence to score under the posts, it looked like a wall not even Donald Trump would be interested in.

The Tahs did regather, but the clever Blues team found enough holes to get the job done.

More work is needed for NSW here.

 

FOLAU'S RECORD

Israel Folau is now the record-holder for most tries in Super Rugby history.

When he raced forward chasing Bernard Foley's cross-field kick, there was a sense of inevitability.

Folau jumped at exactly the right time, got higher than the two defenders marking him, caught the ball, and fell over the line for his 60th Super Rugby try, overtaking All Blacks legend Doug Howlett.

Behind Folau are other icons, Caleb Ralph, Christian Cullen and Joe Roff.

And he could only have broken the record in this fashion, taking the high ball, his trademark.

Folau has a long way to go in his career but doubtless, when finished, he'll be remembered as the best player in history under the high ball in rugby and league.

 

PLAYING CATCH-UP

Trailing 17-0, the Tahs were headed for a hammering.

But they fought back with grit and guile.

Firstly, Folau crossed. Then Will Miller scored from a driving maul moments before half-time to bring the score back to 17-14 at the break.

After Blues centre TJ Faiane scored soon after the break, the Blues led 22-14 and again could have taken control of the match.

 

 

The Blues’ Ma'a Nonu celebrates scoring against the Waratahs on Saturday night. Picture: Getty Images
The Blues’ Ma'a Nonu celebrates scoring against the Waratahs on Saturday night. Picture: Getty Images

But NSW scrapped their way back, with Folau setting up winger Alex Newsome for a smart try, and with Foley's sideline conversion it was 22-21.

They stifled their own momentum, however, when a loose Kurtley Beale pass was snatched by Rieko Ioane, and Ma'a Nonu ran away to score under the posts in the 60th minute.

A Foley penalty four minutes later made it 29-24, however, Otere Black countered with his own to re-establish a 32-24 lead for the home side.

When replacement halfback Jake Gordon crossed in the 76th minute off a scrum, the 32-29 score set up a thrilling finish.

But the Blues closed out the match with nearly three minutes of forward crashes, before getting a penalty and kicking the ball out, securing four wins in a row for the first time since 2011.

 

BLUES 32 (Caleb Clarke, TJ Faiane, Ma'a Nonu, Tom Robinson tries Otere Black 3 cons 2 pens) NSW WARATAHS 29 (Israel Folau, Jake Gordon, Will Miller, Alex Newsome tries Bernard Foley 3 cons pen) at Eden Park. Referee: Federico Anseimi

News Corp Australia


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