Blues 21 Waratahs 13
If the Waratahs fail to make the finals it will be a disaster of their own making.
The 11th-placed Blues, having drawn the curtain on their experiment with NRL star Benji Marshall, beat the fourth-placed Waratahs at their own game on Friday, scoring two tries to the Waratahs' one and ensuring the Eden Park hoodoo remains intact for a fifth-straight season.
There was the Will Skelton falcon, the cross-field kick that handed the Blues their second try, Dave Dennis' face palm on his No.12 Kurtley Beale, and more knock-ons than a game of ping pong.
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Visinia (20min), Saili (52min)||Tries||2||Tries||1||Players||Potgieter (57min)|
|Players||Hickey 1/2 (50%)||Conversions||1||Conversions||1||Players||Foley 1/1 (100%)|
|Players||Hickey 3/3 (100%)||Penalty goals||3||Penalty goals||2||Players||Foley 2/4 (50%)|
|Players||Drop goals||0||Drop goals||0||Players|
The Blues defended aggressively and took their chances when they cropped up, sending winger Lolagi Visinia over in the first half and centre Francis Saili over in the second.
But it was the Waratahs who played the starring role in their own demise, making a meal of their clean breaks and a mockery of their attacking firepower with 26 turnovers to the Blues' 11.
They had a potential try to Horne disallowed in the second minute for a double movement and missed a penalty goal to trail 8-3 at the break.
A try to South African import Jacques Potgieter in the 58th minute came from a rare display of patience inside the Blues' 22.
But more often than not NSW treated possession carelessly, pushing passes or offloading in contact to build a turnover count that will make for painful viewing come review day on Monday.
The Blues took first points after Horne was ruled to have "landed and propelled himself forward off the ground". Stand-in five-eighth Simon Hickey, third in line after Marshall flew the coop and Chris Noakes was ruled out with concussion, slotted a penalty goal in the eighth minute.
The Waratahs had chances aplenty, Israel Folau using his trademark acceleration to bolt down the right flank soon afterwards. But the pass hit Crawford's knees and the chance vanished. It would be the storyline of the match for NSW.
Ashley-Cooper was next off a turnover in the Waratahs' 22, opening up the midfield for a clear break, but his reverse pass to inside centre Kurtley Beale was too clever by far.
The Waratahs were forced to defend next and came away with a penalty, but Foley missed the shot to keep the Waratahs scoreless.
They had more chances but another knock-on from Ashley-Cooper and a Sekope Kepu pass right into the hands of a Blues defender scuppered another chance.
The Blues punished the mistakes, rampaging centre Ma'a Nonu slicing through the midfield defence to make it easy pickings for Visinia in the 21st minute. Hickey missed the difficult conversion to make it 8-0.
A Skelton falcon was the next blunder, Potgieter taking an easy lineout ball 10 metres out from the Blues' line, delivering it to his second-rower, but hitting his head instead.
The Waratahs eventually made a mark thanks to a penalty goal from Foley, but ran into the sheds trailing 8-3.
The Blues widened the gap to eight points with a penalty goal after the break when experienced prop Benn Robinson was penalised for taking out the halfback and Hickey took his chance.
Some good old-fashioned mauling put the Waratahs within inches of the try line and patience kept them on the attack, Potgieter eventually darting over. Foley converted to make it 18-10 and added a penalty to close the gap to five points with 10 minutes to go.
But another penalty goal from Hickey and a missed shot from Foley sealed a 21-13 loss that was almost entirely of the Waratahs' making.