VIDEO: Blues get back to winning ways
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA MATCH REPORT: The Blues bounced back from successive defeats to beat the Hurricanes in a grueling match in Auckland on Saturday.
Following their losses to the Crusaders and Chiefs, the Blues outscored the struggling Hurricanes by three tries to one for a 27-17 win at Eden Park.
It allowed the Blues to close the gap on the runaway leaders, the Crusaders, who had lost to the Highlanders a day earlier.
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In a game that did not reach great heights – Blues captain Tom Robinson called it “ugly” – the Hurricanes overcame two yellow cards in the first half to lead 12-10 early in the second spell.
But defensive errors paved the way for tries by TJ Faiane and Mark Telea to ensure a Blues victory.
The Hurricanes did claim a late try to Reed Prinsep only for Otere Black to land a penalty after the hooter which denied the visitors a bonus point.
Blues captain Tom Robinson was not happy with his side’s discipline but said it was a relief to win again after back-to-back losses.
“It feels so good. To come out and win like that, even if it was ugly, I’m over the moon,” he said.
Hurricanes skipper Ardie Savea said being down to 14 men for 20 minutes hurt his side.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves. It was tough. You’ve got to be on point for the full 80 and we had a few lapses and the Blues punished us,” he said.
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Unlike the Highlanders who never turned down a shot at goal on their way to upsetting the Crusaders, the Blues and Hurricanes preferred to ignore the posts and kick for position with penalties in the first quarter.
But it was a messy period with the Hurricanes’ attacks repeatedly snuffed out by the turnover skills of Dalton Papalii, who has made the early running to replace the injured Sam Cane in the All Blacks’ No.7 jersey.
However, when Du’Plessis Kirifi was yellow carded, they did take a shot at goal and Jordie Barrett’s penalty was successful.
Savea’s dismissal for collapsing a Blues line-out drive resulted in a penalty try which put the Blues in front.
In a rapid exchange of points in the closing minutes of the half, Barrett landed two further penalties for the visitors while Otere Black kicked one for the Blues who turned with a 10-9 lead.
Barrett’s fourth penalty early in the second half regained the lead for the Hurricanes but it was a short-lived advantage with tries to Faiane and Talea putting the Blues firmly ahead.
Bottom-of-the-table Hurricanes play the Crusaders next week, while the Blues have a bye.
Man of the match: There was Jordie Barrett’s boot, the power of Julian Savea and Ardie Savea, while Dane Coles showed there is life left in this old dog. Otere Black had his moments, Hoskins Sotutu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Tom Robinson all put in big shifts. Akira Ioane made a big impact when he came on as a second-half replacement – including a crucial turnover. Our award goes to energetic Blues flank Dalton Papalii – with 20 tackles and some crucial turnovers, do go with a couple of powerful carries.
For the Blues
Tries: Penalty try, Faiane, Telea
Cons: Penalty try does not require a conversion, Black 2
Pens: Black 2
For the Hurricanes
Pens: Barrett 4
Yellow cards: Du’Plessis Kirifi (Hurricanes, 17 – foul play, dangerous clean-out), Ardie Savea (Hurricanes, 32 – cynical foul, collapsing a maul illegally near the tryline)
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson (captain), 5 Sam Darry, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Luteru Tolai, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 AJ Lam.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Orbyn Leger, 9 Luke Campbell, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Wes Goosen.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, James Doleman
TMO: Ben O’Keeffe