Life University's Elite Cup men's club team held off a determined Old Blue squad 25-21, needing a late try from Blake Bradford to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
In a game that promised to be a battle of excellent goalkickers and of who could stay out of penalty trouble, both teams squandered point-scoring opportunities through the day.
Aaron McMaster put Life ahead early 3-0, but Old Blue equalized, and then took a 10-3 lead five minutes before the halftime break when scrumhalf Blake Creighton sneaked over from the base of a ruck. Old Blue extended that to 13-3 with an Adam Siddall penalty, but Benji Goff's try edged Life closer 13-8 right before halftime.
A try from Cathal Doyle, with the conversion from AJ MacGinty, put Life ahead for the first time in about 40 minutes, and then Life scored through Benny Mateialona to lead 20-13.
Old Blue edged closer when Siddall popped a kick over the defense for Dan Freed-Pastor to make it 20-18.
A long break from Old Blue fullback Luke Hume didn't result in a try, but Life infringed and Siddall knocked over the penalty to give his side the 21-20 lead.
Old Blue couldn't retain the restart, but managed to force Life into touch. Life forward Kris Headlee made a great play to tap the ball back on his team's side, and then Life worked their way down the field to set up Bradford's game-winner.
Hume had one more break, and chipped over the defense to chase after the ball. Old Blue argued he was taken out after the kick, but the referee said the contact was incidental. Even a penalty to Old Blue would have guaranteed nothing.
Life's defense held, and the game was over, 25-21 to Life.
"We talked about it late in the game, and we needed to get back to basics," said Life center Tui Osborne. "We needed to work the phases. We had some moments of real brilliance, but then we made mistakes, got too impatient."
Isaacson concurred, saying there was a ten-minute period when his team played the best rugby he has seen, but it didn't last.
Tries: Goff, Mateialona, Doyle, Bradford
Old Blue 21
Tries: Creighton, Freed-Pastor
Pens: Sidall 3