Connect to share and comment
Fly-half Bernard Foley kicked a penalty goal after the siren to deliver the New South Wales Waratahs a thrilling 30-27 come-from-behind Super 15 win over the Auckland Blues in Sydney on Sunday.
Foley's last-gasp kick sealed a dramatic second-half rally by the Waratahs after they trailed 24-10 at half-time.
It was only the battling Waratahs' second win of the season, while the Blues fell to 2-2 this campaign.
The Blues, coached by John Kirwan, looked headed for a comfortable victory after a three-try first half against the disorganised Waratahs.
But following a half-time team talk by coach Michael Cheika, the Waratahs roared back with two tries to set up the tense finish.
Foley only took over the goalkicking duties after scrum-half Brendan McKibbin was forced off with a shoulder injury 30 minutes in.
Foley kicked two conversions and two penalties from his four attempts along with a 64th minute try that levelled the scores.
"We made it hard on ourselves in the first half. We started strong and played some good rugby but let them back into the game through knocking off and not working hard enough," said skipper Dave Dennis, one the Waratahs' best players.
"The second half was pleasing. They're a good side and to get that win means a lot for our group and helps us going forward."
Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell put the Waratahs in front in the seventh minute after leadup work from McKibbin and former rugby league international Israel Folau.
But Auckland scored the next three tries through hooker James Parsons, pouncing on a Waratahs lineout win; fly-half Chris Noakes; and fullback Charles Piutau off a dreadful handling error by replacement scrum-half Matt Lucas.
Noakes kicked Auckland to a commanding 14-point lead at the break, which was the biggest half-time deficit the Waratahs had conceded in six years.
But the Waratahs turned around the match, with Folau scoring off a forward-looking Lucas pass and Foley plunging over to level the scores.
Folau butchered a try four minutes from time and Foley missed a drop goal attempt, before Blues lock Culum Retallick was penalised for offside and presented Foley with his match-winning penalty attempt from 36 metres out.
"Individually we made too many mistakes and we couldn't apply the pressure over the distance," Blues skipper Ali Williams said.
"Frustrating: it is what is when you get to Sydney, though, it's a hard battle."
The Waratahs will host Western Force in an Australian derby next Sunday, while the Blues have a New Zealand derby with the Waikato Chiefs in Mount Maunganui on Saturday.