Another week, another goal from the Blues who broke a club record with a poignant 20-17 win over the Waratahs at Leichhardt Oval.
Last week it was Beauden Barrett who scuttled the Brumbies in Canberra and this time it was Zarn Sullivan’s left shoe from the deep that broke the hearts of NSW fans on Saturday night.
The Blues had already secured top spot on the ladder en route to the quarter-finals and coach Leon MacDonald made 14 changes to his starting lineup.
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Sullivan nails game winner for Blues
“13 games in a row, a club record (for consecutive wins), and there’s your hero,” Sean Maloney said of Nine and Stan Sport.
“Extraordinary turnover of players and at one point it was 14-3 (against the Waratahs).”
Due to the upset loss, the sixth-seeded Waratahs will have to travel to Hamilton to play against the third-seeded Chiefs next Saturday.
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The fourth-seeded Brumbies will be the only Australian team to host a quarter-final against the fifth-seeded Hurricanes in Canberra next Saturday.
The Force must defeat the Hurricanes in their final round-robin match to keep their hopes alive in the quarterfinals.
Either way, the Blues are clearly the team to beat.
“We practice for these moments in training,” Sullivan said.
“It just comes down to repetition and being in the moment.”
Blues captain Luke Romano – who scored a crucial late attempt to set up the finish in the stands – said his young team was motivated by outside noise.
Pietsch of a pass for Waratah’s try
“There was a lot of talk about bringing in a B team, but we didn’t look at it that way,” said Romano.
After a grueling first half, the Waratahs roared to life in the second and were able to claim victory after two slick attempts to break out winger Mark Nawaqanitawase.
But the baby Blues kept grinding and eventually things turned in their favor.
“A disappointing finish for us,” said Waratahs captain Jake Gordon.
The Chiefs defeated the Waratahs 51-27 in Hamilton on round 10, but NSW will draw confidence this season from wins over the Crusaders and Highlanders.
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