Blues get bonus-point win in Canberra
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Blues secured a valuable 18-12 bonus-point win over the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday.
The Blues stretched the Kiwi winning streak over Australian opposition to 15 games this season.
It was only the Blues' fifth win in their last 34 games away from home, but four of those wins have come in Australia.
Despite remaining last in the New Zealand conference, the Blues were too good for the Australian conference-leading Brumbies - underlining the yawning gulf between the trans-Tasman rivals.
"It's massive for us to get a bonus point in Canberra and I am extremely proud of the boys' resilience," said Blues' skipper James Parsons.
"We've had a hard time back at home but to come away and get this win sets us up nicely after the Waratahs won last night [in Brisbane], so we will be going to Sydney next week pretty happy."
Inside centre Sonny Bill Williams and blindside flank Steven Luatua pushed their All Blacks selection claims for the coming British and Irish Lions home series with strong performances for the Blues.
The Blues dominated possession and territory to score their tries through Matt Duffie, Akira Ioane and Melani Nanai, with Bryn Gatland landing a penalty.
Flyhalf Wharenui Hawera scored all of the Brumbies' points with four penalty goals.
The Brumbies missed 54 tackles and made six handling errors but still came away with a losing bonus point for finishing within seven points. They hold a five-point lead over the Waratahs in the Australian conference.
It was the Brumbies' third straight loss and their ninth consecutive defeat to New Zealand opposition.
Wing Duffie opened the scoring in the 31st minute off a George Moala offload and a Hawera penalty goal kept the Brumbies in the game at 8-3 at half-time.
Hawera reduced the gap to two points with another penalty goal three minutes into the second half and put the home team in front with his third penalty after 51 minutes.
But the Blues hit back, with No.8 Ioane driving over for a try off a well-worked line-out to lead 13-8.
The Brumbies cranked up the pressure and Hawera's fourth penalty goal edged them to within one point with 20 minutes remaining.
But the Blues capitalised on their opportunities, with a Nanai try coming off a scrum to clinch victory.
Man of the match: Scrumhalf Augustine Pulu showed some nice touches with the ball, while George Moala was as strong as ever in the midfield. However, the award goes to Blues No.8 Akira Ioane who made his presence felt with ball in hand and on defence.
Pens: Hawera 4
Tries: Duffie, A Ioane, Nanai
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Lolo Fakaosilea, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Nic Mayhew.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 De Wet Roos, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Aidan Toua.
Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Leighton Price, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Sam Nock, 23 Melani Nanai.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ed Martin (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)