Blues smash error-prone Hurricanes
Sat, 13 Apr 2013 09:28
Four tries to nil
The Blues put their Super Rugby campaign firmly back on track with an impressive 28-6 win over the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Saturday.
The four tries to nil win saw the Blues move into second place in the New Zealand conference and fifth place overall - overtaking the Hurricanes in the process.
There was plenty of movement and energy in the first half, with the game taking on the appearance of a Sevens fixture at times. However, the skills levels and execution lacked, resulting in a string of scrums, line-outs and penalties.
After the break the Blues were more clinical, as they went back to their structure and avoided getting sucked back into the helter-skelter game the Hurricanes were employing.
The Hurricanes didn't help themselves with a host of unforced errors.
The result was a Blues team rapidly taking the game away from the visitors and showing just how dangerous they can be when the opposition doesn't shut them down quickly enough.
Add to that the Blues' ability to step it up on defence when the Hurricanes threatened, often turning over ball just metres from their own line.
The Blues were the first to get the scoreboard going - Frank Halai scoring a try that started with Piri Weepu stepping at a line-out and then just good hands and great support play exposing the Hurricanes' cover. Chris Noakes added the extras, 7-0 after 12 minutes.
As the first quarter drew to a close Beauden Barrett had a shot at goal, but he was well wide of the mark.
The Hurricanes eventually got on the board in the 28th minute, when Tusi Pisi slotted a drop-goal, with the referee playing a penalty advantage to the visitors - 3-7.
And Beauden Barrett made it a one-point (6-7) game with a penalty in the 34th minute as the referee blew a concerto against the Blues.
Two minutes from the half-time break Steven Luatua went over the line as the Blues launched a late charge at the Hurricanes line, with the call going to the TMO - who had two things to look at, a blow-up between Ali Williams and Brad Shields in the build-up to the Steven Luatua's charge, as well as the grounding. He ruled that he could not clearly see a grounding, as TJ Perenara got underneath the ball.
However, off the resulting scrum Piri Weepu went to Peter Saili, who threw an inside pass to Charles Piutau, who went through and over almost untouched - a brilliant and classic set-piece play. Noakes added the conversion for a 14-6 lead at the break.
James Parsons struck another crucial blow just six minutes after the break, when he scored the third try - coming again from a scrum, one quick phases and then going out to the left, where Parsons collected an inside pass from Noakes. The latter added the conversion - 21-6.
Charles Piutau had a chance to put the match beyond doubt, just short of the hour mark, but he failed to control the ball as he slid over the line.
The bonus-point try went to prop Tom McCartney in the 61st minute - as the Blues launched another effective raid off a scrum inside the Hurricanes 22. A few quick phases and a strong pick-'n-go saw the prop drive over.
The Hurricanes launched themselves into a desperate bid to get back into the game and Reynold Lee-Lo went over the line, but Steven Luatua managed to wrap his arms around the ball and hold it up.
Noakes missed a shot at goal from about 45 metres out, as the Hurricanes continued to throw everything into attack to try and salvage something from the game.
The consolation try appeared to go the Julian Savea minutes from time, but the Hurricanes were called back by the TMO - who ruled that Steven Luatua had put a foot into touch before throwing a pass that Savea intercepted.
With time up Baden Kerr had a shot at goal, but he was wide and well short - leaving the Blues with a convincing and deserved win.
Man of the match: Conrad Smith was all class again for the Hurricanes and TJ Perenara had another big game, including a great try-saving tackle. Ali Williams was constantly in the referee's ear, but he certainly had another impressive outing as the team's leader. Luke Braid was a menace at the breakdown and did some yeoman work on defence. Left wing Rene Ranger had his moments, including a number of crucial turnovers. On the other wing Frank Halai also caused the Hurricanes' defence all kinds of problems. Piri Weepu is back to his best at scrumhalf. But the real spark in the Blues' attack was fullback Charles Piutau. Our award goes to Blues flank Steven Luatua - who produced a sublime performance with ball in hand and on defence, including a try-saving tackle when the Hurricanes looked to get themselves back into the game.
For the Blues:
Tries: Halai, Piutau, Parsons, McCartney
Cons: Noakes 4
For the Hurricanes:
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Albert Nikoro.
Hurricanes: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Ben May, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Jack Lam, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Reynold Lee-Lo 22 Andre Taylor.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jonathon White (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
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