A late penalty from Ihaia West handed the Blues their first win of the Super Rugby season on Friday, beating the Brumbies 16-14 at Eden Park.
In a dramatic finish, Brumbies scrum-half Nic White missed a long-range penalty after the hooter to hand the Blues a much-needed victory that eases the pressure on coach John Kirwan after a seven-game losing streak.
In a game of two vastly different halves, the Blues deservedly led 13-0 at the interval with all the points – including a well-taken try – coming from fly-half Dan Bowden.
The tide turned early in the second period though as replacement back Lausii Taliauli crossed for the Brumbies and a couple of penalties from Christian Lealiifano set up grandstand finish.
Another penalty gave the Brumbies the lead for the first time in the 73rd minute but West stepped up to slot the winner four minutes later.
The win sees the Blues climb off the bottom of the overall standings while the Brumbies will go home with a bonus point and retain top of the Australian conference.
The scrums were a mess all night and the Brumbies' usually reliable lineout misfired, denying them possession at crucial times.
The Blues made a promising start and were good value for their 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to two penalties from Bowden. The gap should probably have been bigger but the home pivot hit the post with shot at goal and an early chance was missed when Charles Piutau put too much on his chip ahead.
With the penalty count mounting, the Brumbies were lucky to not have a man sent to the bin as they struggled to get out of their own half.
The visitors' cause was not helped by the loss of fly-half Matt Toomua while a series of uncharacteristic errors meant the Blues were allowed to control the game.
The Blues finally turned the pressure into points as the ball went wide and Bowden wriggled through a gap created by Joe Tomane rushing up.
Bowden added the extras with a great kick from close to the touchline to hand his team a decent lead heading into the break.
Having missed an absolute sitter in the first half, Leali'ifano opened the Brumbies' account with a well-struck penalty early in the second period.
The gap was cut further as Taliauli went over at the end of a huge overlap after a period of sustained pressure.
Lealiifano missed the conversion but the zip had gone out the Blues' efforts while the Brumbies had stepped up a gear.
With the penalties now going the other way, a comeback looked on the cards heading into the final quarter and Lealiifano hit the target with his second penalty to reduce the deficit to just two points with 13 minutes left on the clock.
The Blues escaped a penalty try as they pulled down a Brumbies maul close to the end zone but the ensuing penalty put the Brumbies ahead.
West though held his nerve to split the uprights from a penalty out wide before White's last gasp effort – from another scrum penalty – sailed off target.
Pens: Bowden 2, West
Pens: Leali'ifano 3
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jerome Kaino (c), 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Steven Luatua, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Francis Saili.
Brumbies: 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Henry Speight, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Ita Vaea, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Lausii Taliauli, 23. Nigel Ah Wong.
Venue: Eden Park Stadium, Auckland
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant referees: Nick Briant, Brendon Pickerill
Television match official: Ben Skeen