The stunning, spectacular and the sentimental, nzherald.co.nz lists the top ten sporting matches of 2012.
Number 8: Hurricanes sink the Blues in the final play
Friday March 23, 2012
When the Blues look back at defining moments that ruined their 2012 Super Rugby season, their last-second loss to the Hurricanes in round five will stick out like a sore thumb.
Leading 25-19 with less than a minute on the clock, the Blues managed to throw away what appeared to be a sure-thing as the Hurricanes produced the most exciting finish to a Super Rugby match all season.
The Blues were perfectly poised to turn around their disappointing start to the year, after an inspired first half performance full of the fight, character and cohesion that had been lacking in earlier games.
They rode a dominant scrum, a competitive midfield and the boot of Lachie Munro to a six-point lead with 80 seconds to go, before All Black Piri Weepu aimlessly kicked possession back to the Hurricanes.
Seven phases later Beauden Barrett had cut the Blues defence to pieces with a blistering midfield break before setting up Conrad Smith for a sensational try on the hooter.
Barrett then coolly slotted the conversion to condemn the Blues to their fourth loss in five games.
The Blues never recovered from the defeat, losing their next five games in a row before finishing the season in 12th place.
What they said:
New Zealand Herald deputy sports editor Dylan Cleaver who was reporting on the game
"This was the night when you knew it wasn't going to be the Blues year. For the majority of this match they bossed the visitors, particularly at scrum time, and with a minute to go the game was as good as won.
"Step forward Beauden Barrett. For some time we had heard the rumours that he was pretty special, and when he scythed through a gap to put Conrad Smith in for a try, then coolly slotted the angled conversion under duress, then the hype seemed justified.
"It wasn't really about the Hurricanes that night, however, it was more about the continued decline of a once-proud franchise."
"It's tough. Personally I felt I've let the team down.
"We didn't play to the final whistle and those guys did and you can't take anything away from them. People had written them off and they may not have showed a lot of promise in pre-seasons, but the competition's different. I take my hat off to them."
"When we were under a lot of pressure, we just kept saying to each other, 'hang in there, hang in there'. You wait for a chance like that, but I don't think we can rely on winning games like that all the time.
"It's funny how things work out. We'd been talking about it all week that if we just kept going they would get tired and in the end they did. I didn't think it would play out quite that literally.
"They did really well out to shut us out and nine times out of 10 they would have ended it."