Blues dash Waratahs' play-off hopes
REPORT: The Blue put in a outstanding attacking performance in the rain to beat the Waratahs 34-28 at Eden Park on Friday.
The game had a total of three penalty tries, in which the Waratahs had two awarded to them because of their dominance in the scrum. However, it was the home side who were dominant in open play for most of the game. In the end the Blues scored five tries, which included one penalty try as well.
The Waratahs only got a bonus point from the match and they will be hoping that the Western Force upset the Brumbies on Saturday, so that they can claim that last play-off spot.
It was a cagey start with both teams struggling to get the ascendency in terms of possession and territory in the opening minutes of the game.
However, it was not long before the Waratahs asserted their dominance up front as they put the Blues under constant pressure at scrum time.
After an array of penalties at scrum time, the visitors were finally rewarded when they were got a penalty try after another powerful scrum five metres from the Blues' tryline.
It did not take long for the Blues to hit back however, after lock Patrick Tuipulotu dived over in the corner from a scrum to reduce the deficit to just two points. Piers Francis could not convert.
The Blues then took the lead in the 31st minute when they were awarded a penalty try after the Waratahs collapsed a Blues' driving maul just metres from their tryline. Francis converted and the score was 12-7 in favour of the home side.
The Waratahs had one last attacking flurry in the dying minutes of the first half, however, some great defending by the Blues kept them out.
The visitors were the first to score in the second half when they were awarded another penalty try in the 45th minute after another dominant scrum just five metres from the Blues tryline. Foley converted and the Waratahs led by two points.
However, that lead did not last long when the Blues struck back after some brilliant attacking play. The ball went through a number of hands before Francis weaved his way through the Waratahs' defence to score. Francis also converted the score.
Francis then extended his team's lead in the 58th minute with a penalty. At this stage the Blues were dominating the game in open play with some slick handling and aggressive defence.
The Waratahs were not going to lie down and they struck back three minutes later when Israel Folau beat a few defenders after a sustained attack to score. Foley converted and the visitors were only one point adrift of their hosts.
The scoring just continued after that when the Blues regained their eight-point lead when Malani Nanai pounced on a deflected Ihaia West kick to sprint in for his team's fourth try. Francis once again converted.
In the 72nd minute the Blues' lead was cut again when their former player Angus Ta'avao crashed over for a try after a quick Waratahs' tap in the Blues' 22.
However, the visitors hopes of a play-off place were dashed four minutes from time when George Moala eased over for a try to wrap up the scoring.
Man of the match: Piers Francis, Bryn Hall and Patrick Tuipulotu were quite exceptional for the Blues, while on the Waratahs side Israel Folau and Paddy Ryan stood up as well. But the award goes to Blues No.8 Steven Luatua who put in another strong all-round game. He was strong in the tackle and effective going over the advantage line with ball in hand,
Tries: Tuipulotu, Penaltry Try, Francis, Nanai, Moala
Cons: Francis 3
Tries: Penalty Tries 2, Folau , Ta'avao
Cons: Foley 4
Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Male Sa'u, 12 Piers Francis,11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Sione Mafileo or Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 George Moala, 23 Lolagi Visinia.
Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Matt Carraro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Jim Stewart.
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill, Kane McBride
TMO: Ben Skeen