CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Beauden Barrett's dropped goal after the siren earned a Super Rugby Pacific victory for the Blues against the ACT Brumbies by 21-19 on Saturday and clinched first place in the standings.
The Blues' 12th consecutive win lifted them six points above the second-placed Crusaders with one round remaining next weekend.
The visiting Blues led 8-7 at halftime. Brumbies No. 8 Pete Samu scored in the second minute for an early lead but Barrett’s unconverted try on halftime gave the Blues the advantage at the break.
Prop Karl Tu’inukuafe scored a 66th-minute try to put the Blues ahead in a back-and-forth final 15 minutes. Reserve hooker Billy Pollard gave the Brumbies back the lead after a converted try with four minutes left.
The third-placed Brumbies have lost two in a row at home for the first time in four years.
Elsewhere, All Blacks center Quinn Tupaea scored three tries as the Chiefs beat the Western Force 54-21 to consolidate fourth place. And the Hurricanes scored seven tries in a 45-22 win over the Melbourne Rebels, for whom replacement winger Lukas Ripley scored a hat trick of tries.
Tupaea touched down twice in a competitive first half after which the Chiefs led 21-7. The Force had their best period of the match at the end of the first half when they were almost constantly on attack and scored their first try through former Chiefs winger Toni Pulu.
But Tupaea scored his third in the 46th to herald a strong second half from the Chiefs, who scored five more tries and tallied eight.
A win over the Fijian Drua in Suva next week in the final regular-season round will guarantee the Chiefs a home quarterfinal.
“We’re pretty happy with that,” Chiefs captain Brad Weber said. “We’re trying to find a bit of momentum after maybe losing a bit of our mojo. It’s nice to come out and show a bit of attitude in both halves which sets you up for what’s to come.”
At Wellington, former All Blacks winger Julian Savea opened the scoring for the Hurricanes after only three minutes and remained a force throughout the match with his barnstorming runs. Tries to Billy Proctor and Blake Gibson opened a 17-3 lead after 19 minutes, then Matt Toomu'a put Ripley away for his first Rebels try.
The Hurricanes were up 26-8 by halftime but suffered a lapse early in the second spell which enabled Ripley to score again and the Rebels to draw closer at 26-15.
A strong forward effort allowed the Hurricanes to reassert themselves, and they scored through Jordie Barrett and flyhalf Aidan Morgan before Ripley completed his hat trick.
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