AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) In a match in which three penalty tries were awarded, the Auckland-based Blues beat the New South Wales Waratahs 34-28 Friday in Super Rugby.
A week after beating the ACT Brumbies to undermine their chances of reaching the playoffs, the Blues scored five tries and the Waratahs four – two penalty tries to the Waratahs, one to the Blues – to likely knock New South Wales out of the quarterfinals.
The Waratahs needed to win Friday to keep pace with the Brumbies in the race for the only qualifying place available in Australia. But the Brumbies now need only a point from their match on Saturday against 16th-place Western Force to get a home playoff in Canberra.
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For or a team that had to win with a bonus point to have any real chance of making the playoffs, the Waratahs played no attacking rugby until the 60th minute when Wallabies center Israel Folau scored their first legitimate try.
They had previously been awarded two penalty tries for infringements by the Blues at scrums. Both decisions were questionable, as was a third decision by New Zealand referee Mike Fraser to award the Blues a penalty try at a collapsed maul in the 30th minute. It seemed the maul had disintegrated and the Blues may even have scored before the decision was made.
''We know we didn't play as pretty as last week,'' Blues captain James Parsons said. ''It probably wasn't as clinical as we would like.
''But the thing we're trying to find here is a bit of heart, a bit of passion and we've got a quote on our wall about leaving a bit of ourselves out on the field and I felt we did that.''
The Blues have played their last match this season after missing the playoffs but they finished strongly with wins over Australia's two top teams.
The Waratahs paid for a lack of attacking ability and are now also likely to be excluded from the playoffs.
''We just put pressure on ourselves,'' Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said. ''We'd get a really nice try and then teams get a try straight back on us and we're back to an even playing field.''