WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Jordie Barrett converted Asafo Aumua’s try in the 76th minute of a see-saw match Saturday to give the Wellington-based Hurricanes a 29-27 victory over the Auckland-based Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Replacement hooker Aumua drove over from a lineout and fullback Barrett calmly added the conversion from near the touchline to earn a third win in five matches for his side in the New Zealand tournament this season.
The teams were locked together at 15-15 after a first half dominated by the Hurricanes, who created a huge number of chances but finished only two.
The Blues moved up a gear in the second period, tightening their defense and scoring two tries from lineout drives to lead 27-22 as full-time approached. But the Hurricanes had the last laugh.
“What a battle,” Hurricanes captain Dane Coles said. “Credit to our bench, they came on and they gave us energy. We kind of lost our way for 15 or 20 minutes but I’m just proud of the boys.”
The Blues, who won their first three matches, have now lost two in a row. They went down last weekend to the unbeaten Crusaders and Saturday's defeat drops them into a second-place tie with the Hurricanes.
The match was fast-paced and exciting. The Hurricanes found holes in the Blues’ defense in the opening half with strong running from centers Ngani Laumape and Peter Umaga-Jensen and backrowers Du Plessis Kirifi and Ardie Savea.
But while they were full of enterprise, they lacked care with their finishing and let tries go begging.
The form of star All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett remains a concern for the Blues, who again played him at fullback. Laumape twice eluded him early on, scoring the Hurricanes' first try in the fourth minute.
Barrett then showed his class, making a clean break for a try in the ninth minute.
Flanker Dalton Papali’i was driven over from a lineout in the 30th minute to give the Blues a 15-7 lead but the Hurricanes replied with a similar try by Reed Prinsep five minutes before halftime.
Coles scored off a short pass from scrumhalf T.J. Perenara to give the Hurricanes their first points of the second half before the Blues regained the lead with tries from Akira Ioane and Kurt Eklund, both from lineouts.
Aumua’s match-winner was also from a lineout drive.
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