Super Rugby Pacific: Blues fullback Zarn Sullivan slots winning drop goal against NSW Waratahs for franchise-record win streak

For the second straight week, the Super Rugby Pacific tabletopping Blues have snatched victory over their Aussie rivals with a last-gasp drop goal, with fullback Zarn Sullivan doing the honours against NSW Waratahs at Sydney.

Trailling 14-3 midway through the second half, the Aucklanders scored two converted tries to snatch the lead, but conceded a late penalty that levelled the scores, as the contest seemed destined for extra time.

With one last chance to grab the win, the visitors laid seige to the Waratahs goal-line and eventually provided Sullivan with enough space to snap a leftfoot pot that soared between the uprights for an improbable 20-17 victory.

The result extends their winning streak this season to 13 games - a new franchise record - and ensures they carry momentum into next week's quarter-finals, where they will likely either the Highlanders or Western Force.

The Blues celebrate their win over NSW Waratahs
The Blues celebrate their win over NSW Waratahs. Photo credit: Getty

But the Blues arrived in Sydney with the odds stacked against them, with post-season home advantage secured and coach Leon MacDonald choosing to rest his frontline players against a full-strength New South Wales outfit still hoping to grab a home playoff.

Only loose forward Anton Segner retained his spot from the starting side that beat ACT Brumbies last week and he last only 10 minutes, before he was helped from the field with an ankle injury.

Led by veteran lock Luke Romano, the makeshift line-up held their own against their opponents throughout the first half - even when they were reduced to 13 men, with flankers Adrian Choat and Akira Ioane shown yellow cards in quick succession.

Hoping to drive home their numerical advantage, the Waratahs called for an attacking scrum near the tryline, but could not take advantage, with the six-man Blues unit winning a penalty that allowed them to clear and swing momentum in their favour.

In fact, first-five Jock McKenzie slotted a penalty that gave the undermanned visitors a halftime lead.

Momentum swung back the home side's way after the break, when winger Mark Nawaqanitawase scored a try double that put his side 14-3 ahead, but the Blues weren't done, with replacement forward Cameron Suafoa scoring from an attacking lineout.

Then, after 16 phases near the Waratahs line, Romano plunged over to put his side ahead with the finish-line in sight, before NSW first-five Tane Edmed gave his side renewed hope and Sullivan snuffed it out for good.

The irony of longtime Crusaders stalwart Romano inspiring the Blues to a record winning streak should never be underappreciated.

"Super Rugby is such a touch competition and you really have to rely on the whole squad," he said. "There was a lot of talk about bring a 'B' team over, but that's not how we looked at it.

"These boys put in the same amount of work as everyone else. Tonight, they got their opportunity and took it, so really pleasing.

"It doesn't matter where you are in the squad, 1-38 or however many, everyone backs each other. Being able to stack win upon win, the boys just don't give up and find a way to win - that's something awesome to have heading into the playoffs."

The bonus point brought the Waratahs level with the Hurricanes for fifth on the competition table, with the Wellingtonians enjoying a considerable points-differential advantage and a game to come against the Force.

Blues 20 (Suafoa & Romano tries, McKenzie penalty, Sullivan 2 conversions & drop goal) NSW Waratahs 17 (Nawaqanitawase 2 tries, Edmed 2 conversions & penalty)

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