Blues 20-19 Brumbies, Eden Park
Blues survived a double try effort from Lachlan Lonergan as they edged out Brumbies 20-19 in the semi-final of the Super Rugby Pacific at Eden Park on Saturday.
The Blues will now face Crusaders in the final of the competition scheduled at Eden Park on 18th June.
Brumbies got off to a flying start with centre Irae Simone bursting through the Blues' line at the back of a scrum to touchdown in the third minute and Noah Lolesio followed with the conversion to make it 0-7.
Stephen Perofeta kicked back to back penalties in the 10th and 24th minutes to get the hosts off the mark and the backs combined brilliantly to find a try for Hoskins Sotutu in the 24th minute. Perofeta also followed with the conversion to make it 13-7.
With the break approaching, Beauden Barrett looked in great nick as he went past the Brumbies defence before offloading to Mark Telea as he went over the line in the 36th minute before Perofeta's conversion took the Blues to a 20-7 lead at the end of the opening half.
The start of the second half saw Kurt Eklund sin binned in the 53rd minute for a dangerous tackle on Andy Muirhead and Lonergan capitalised on the numerical advantage as he dived over at the back of a rolling maul in the 59th minute to make it 20-12.
Sosefo Kautai forced a penalty at the breakdown and just when they looked threatening for a try, the defence from Blues managed to hold them back. Lonergan barged over for his second try on 77 minutes, with Noah Lolesio's conversion cutting the Blues' lead to a point but the fly-half missed on a desperate drop goal attempt as Blues sealed a thrilling win.
Team line up:
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 AJ Lam, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Beauden Barrett (captain), 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Tom Robinson, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman
Reserves: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Luke Romano, 20 James Tucker, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Tamati Tua, 23 Zarn Sullivan
Brumbies:15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Ollie Sapsfor, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Caderyn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Reserves: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Jahrome Brown, 22 Ryan Lonergan, 23 Hudson Creighton.