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Wasteful Waratahs fall to Blues as Brumbies see off Highlanders

SUPER RUGBY SATURDAY WRAP: The Waratahs are losing touch with the Super Rugby Pacific frontrunners after falling 10-12 to their bogey side the Blues in an ugly encounter in Sydney.

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The Auckland-based Blues extended their longest-ever winning streak over any team in the competition to 10 matches as they consigned the Waratahs to a one-from-four start this campaign.

It could have been so different.

After enduring a heartbreaking 21-23 loss to the Highlanders at home last week, the Waratahs’ frustrations continued in a clumsy showing at in Sydney on Saturday.

The bumbling Blues were there for the taking but the Waratahs will rue not capitalising on a series of attacking chances, mostly in the opening quarter.

In the end, the Waratahs were fortunate not to lose by more after Blues goal-kicker Stephen Perofeta missed three sitters as well as another diabolical conversion attempt from out wide.

There was excitement early when Dylan Pietsch appeared to have scored, only for replays to pick up flank Charlie Gamble stepping in to touch before delivering the last pass to the wing.

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The Tahs were lucky not to lose Triston Reilly to the sinbin after the wing took out Perofeta in the air.

The Blues were also denied a try by the TMO for an obstruction at the maul, leaving the Waratahs clinging to a 3-0 lead in the shadows of half-time courtesy of a Tane Edmed penalty in the 22nd minute.

Alas, the hosts submitted after skipper Jake Gordon unfortunately put his foot in touch while attempting a clearing kick.

The weight of possession eventually told as prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi barged over to give the Blues a 7-3 lead at the break.

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The Waratahs miraculously avoided falling further behind during a tense 10-minute period defending their line straight after the interval.

First the Blues were denied a second try with another obstruction ruling before Perofeta inexplicably kicked the ball dead from a regulation penalty touch finder.

But the equally-wasteful Blues finally widened the margin to beyond a converted try with their second five-pointer, this time to fullback Zarn Sullivan.

A try from a rolling maul to replacement hooker Jay Fonokalafi gave the Waratahs a late sniff but they had to settle for a bonus point instead on another night of what might have been for Darren Coleman’s side.

Brumbies too good for Highlanders in Dunedin

The Brumbies have won a see-sawing battle against the Highlanders with the Australian side continuing to find their Super Rugby Pacific form with a 27-21 victory in Dunedin.

The visitors were leading by two points before hooker Lachlan Lonergan sealed the win with a 75th-minute try on Saturday after his team mauled the ball over the line.

Flyhalf Noah Lolesio then converted the try to push it out to a match-winning margin.

Highlanders playmaker Sam Gilbert was able to salvage a bonus point with a successful penalty kick after full-time.

It was the Brumbies’ third successive win over the Highlanders although they hadn’t won at Otago Stadium since 2013.

The home side took an 11-7 lead into half-time after opening the scoring through a penalty strike by Gilbert and then a try to Nikora Broughton.

The No.8 capitalised on a Brumbies error and kicked the ball into the in-goal, winning the race to touch down.

The Brumbies opted against taking a penalty kick and built on their phases in attack before being rewarded with a try in the 23rd minute to fullback Tom Wright.

The visitors cleaned up their game in the second half, particularly around the breakdown, and were first on the scoreboard when wing Corey Toole used pure pace to race around the defence.

Their lead was out to 17-11 after Lolesio added the conversion and then another penalty.

But the Highlanders kept coming and were back in the lead after flank Billy Harmon dragged five Brumbies defenders along as he stormed over from 10 metres out.

The Brumbies kept their composure and went in front 20-18 in the 65th minute off the boot of Lolesio.

Coach Stephen Larkham emptied his bench and came up trumps through Lonergan’s effort to give his team their third win from four games.

They do have some injury concerns with prop Blake Schoupp and centre Len Ikitau both forced off late in the first half.

Chiefs bounce back

*The Chiefs rediscovered their attacking verve to outclass the Fijian Drua 46-29 on Saturday and climb to third place on the Super Rugby Pacific standings.

Inspired by flyhalf Damian McKenzie, the Chiefs scored six tries to four at home in Hamilton, pulling away in the second half after leading 24-17 at the interval.

It was a disappointing result for the Drua, who were coming off an upset of the Crusaders in Lautoka and were competitive early on, crossing twice through midfield back Iosefo Masi in the first 22 minutes.

Their intensity fell away against the Chiefs, whose sole loss in four rounds this season came last week, when they were stifled by the second-placed Queensland Reds.

Chiefs captain Luke Jacobson was pleased his game-breaking backline could deliver a reminder of what they’re capable of.

“There were probably a few stages there where we got a bit too loose with ball in hand but it’s awesome when we can get some of those plays to come off – it’s pretty nice to watch,” he said.

Flanker Kaylum Boshier crossed twice while McKenzie’s speed and awareness was at the heart of many attacking moments, complementing his 16 points with the boot.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Highlanders 21-27 Brumbies

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Tries: Broughton, Harmon
Con: Gilbert
Pens: Gilbert 3

For Brumbies:
Tries: Wright, Toole, L Lonergan
Cons: Lolesio 3
Pens: Lolesio 2

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Tanielu Tele’a, 12 Sam Gilbert, 11 Martin Bogado, 10 Cameron Millar, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Nikora Broughton, 7 Billy Harmon (captain), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Max Hicks, 4 Fabian Holland, 3 Saula Ma’u, 2 Jack Taylor, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Henry Bell, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Oliver Haig, 20 Sean Withy, 21 James Arscott, 22 Ajay Faleafaga, 23 Connor Garden-Bachop.

Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan (captain), 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Sosefo Kautai, 2 Billy Pollard, 1 Blake Schoupp.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 James Slipper, 18 Rhys van Nek, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rory Scott, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Declan Meredith, 23 Ollie Sapsford.

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Stu Curran, Jackson Henshaw
TMO: Glenn Newman

Chiefs 46-29 Fijian Drua

The scorers:

For Chiefs:
Tries: Boshier 2, Ratima, Rona, Nanai-Seturo, Stevenson
Cons: McKenzie 5
Pens: McKenzie 2

For Fijian Drua:
Tries: Masi 2, Cirikidaveta, Valetini
Cons: Armstrong-Ravula 3
Pen: Armstrong-Ravula

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Daniel Rona, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Etene Nanai-Seturo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Cortez Ratima, 8 Luke Jacobson (captain), 7 Kaylum Boshier, 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 3 Reuben O’Neill, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Ollie Norris, 18 George Dyer, 19 Josh Lord, 20 Tom Florence, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Quinn Tupaea.

Fijian Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Michael Naitokani, 11 Junior Ratuva, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Simione Kuruvoli, 8 Meli Derenalagi (captain), 7 Vilive Miramira, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Ratu Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Jone Koroiduadua, 2 Mesulame Dolokoto, 1 Haereiti Hetet.
Replacements: 16 Zuriel Togiatama, 17 Emosi Tuqiri, 18 Samuela Tawake, 19 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 20 Elia Canakaivata, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Kemu Valetini, 23 Taniela Rakuro.

Referee: Dan Waenga
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Mike Winter
TMO: Richard Kelly

Waratahs 10-12 Blues

The scorers:

For Waratahs:
Tries: Fonokalafi
Con: Edmed
Pen: Edmed

For Blues:
Tries: Tu’ungafasi, Sullivan
Con: Perofeta

Teams:

Waratahs: 15 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 14 Triston Reilly, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Joey Walton, 11 Dylan Pietsch, 10 Tane Edmed, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Langi Gleeson, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Julian Heaven, 1 Hayden Thompson-Stringer.
Replacements: 16 Jay Fonokalafi, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Miles Amatosero, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Lachlan Swinton, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Harry Wilson.

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Bryce Heem, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Laghlan McWhannell, 4 Josh Beehre, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Cameron Suafoa, 20 Anton Segner, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Cole Forbes.

Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant referees: Matt Kellahan, James Palmer
TMO: James Leckie

 

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