The Blues crushed the Force 42-24 in their Round 12 Super Rugby clash on Saturday at Eden Park. The home side started looking dangerous directly from the opening minutes but lacked the necessary touch to reach the try line. In the sixth minute the visitors went through five phases but were stopped in their tracks by the defence.
A stop and go scenario unfolded as both defences did well to win possession. First the away side turned the ball over and then the Blues did the same as line outs and penalties broke down the momentum of the match. In the 21st minute Melani Nanai received a pass from Jimmy Cowan after the team had exchanged passes.
Nanai used the space he found to get the first try of the game. Dan Bowden slotted the conversion. In the 34th minute the Western Australians worked a scrum and a pass reached Nick Cummins but he dropped the ball after he was tackled.
On the stroke of half-time possession coming from a scrum from five metres saw Steven Luata bash through to reach the try line. Bowden again converted. At half-time the score stood at 17-0 in favour of the home team.
John Kirwan’s men began the second half with two more unanswered tries. Three minutes in, Nanai finished off a team effort by beating three tackles to cross the try line. Lotagi Visinia converted as Bowden was taken off.
Five minutes later Akira Loane got the ball in his own half, turned inside and raced to the try line. Ihaia West converted. In the 50th minute Michael Foley’s men responded with their first try.
They kept the ball alive after Cummins had been tackled, passing to Pek Cowan who crashed over the try line. Luke Burton converted. Nine minutes later they were at it again as they set up a maul which was hardly defended.
Matthew Hodgson easily reached the try line but the conversion was missed. In the 62nd minute the hosts won a penalty which West comfortably scored. Five minutes later they counter attacked and with a few exchanges left it to West to cross the try line as he slipped through three tackles on his way.
He converted his own try. They would concede a penalty just two minutes later. Ryan Louwrens took a quick tap and go, exploited the gap he saw and scored. Sias Ebersohn added the extras.
Three minutes from time Foley’s men mauled once again but they were stopped. They used a snappy pick and go which allowed Ben McCalman space to work. He used it and reached the try line.
Ebersohn however missed the conversion. With the last play of the match they were denied a sure try when their player was tackled with only one man to beat and that was the game.
Blues Match Stats:
Tries – M Nanai, S Luata, A Loane, I West
Cons – D Bowden, I West
Pens – D Bowden (2), L Visinia, I West (2)
Force Match Stats:
Tries – P Cowan, M Hodgson, R Louwrens, B McCalman
Cons – L Burton
Cards – D Haylett (yellow card 37th minute)