NSW Waratahs have just the slimmest chance of advancing to the Super Rugby finals after losing 34-28 to the Blues in an Eden Park shootout.
The losing bonus point pushes the Tahs one point ahead of the Brumbies, who will secure the Australian conference title if they pick up a point at home to Western Force on Saturday.
In the event of the teams finishing level on points the Brumbies will be the only Australian side to advance to the playoffs because they have won nine games to the Tahs’ eight.
The Blues scored five tries to four, with defensive lapses costing the Tahs, who have won just one of 10 Super Rugby matches at Eden Park.
Jerome Kaino (R) takes on the Waratahs defensive line. Phil Walter/Getty Images
Each time the Tahs crossed on Friday night, the Blues responded with a five-pointer of their own within five minutes.
“We just pressure on ourselves so poorly,” Waratahs captain and flanker Michael Hooper said in his post-match TV interview.
“Get a really nice try and then we can’t exit our own area and teams get a try straight back on us and we’re back to an even playing field.”
Up 7-0 early after the first of two penalty tries they were awarded because of scrum infringements by the Blues, NSW faltered in the 15 minutes before halftime.
Israel Folau Phil Walter/Getty Images
They conceded two tries, one of them a penalty try for collapsing a rolling maul and then squandered a golden chance seconds before the break to trail 12-7.
A conversion of a second penalty try put them ahead 14-12 but that was their last lead of the night.
A fine solo try to centre Israel Folau and a late five-pointer to Auckland-born prop Angus Ta’avao ensured they stayed close enough to earn the bonus point.
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