Super stalemate at wet Eden Park

Fri, 26 May 2017 07:04

SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Blues and Chiefs played to a 16-all draw at Eden Park on Friday, the first time ever the two franchises were involved in a stalemate in the competition.

In ever-worsening conditions, with monsoon-like rain in the second half, the Chiefs outscored the home team by two tries to one.

However, the trusted boot of Blues flyhalf Pierce Francis - who kicked three penalties and a conversion - kept the Blues in the lead until some magic by Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie allowed the visitors to draw level.

Despite some intense efforts from both teams, the conditions helped conspire to leave the sides deadlocked.

Rieko Ioane and Sonny Bill Williams both made their cases for All Blacks selection for the British and Irish Lions Tests.

The Blues wing, Ioane, profited from a trademark Williams offload - who is also trying to state his All Blacks claims - to score the opening try in Auckland.

Damian McKenzie and Johnny Faauli scored tries for the Chiefs in a draw that did not help either side in the New Zealand conference.

The Chiefs are likely to slip further behind the Crusaders and Hurricanes, while the Blues' season is all but over.

In a match which started in damp and cold weather and ended in pouring rain, the Blues had a chance to snap the deadlock with a penalty eight minutes from full-time.

But Northampton-bound flyhalf Piers Francis, who has been called into the England squad for their tour of Argentina, missed what should have been a routine kick.

The Chiefs had banked on a win to continue putting pressure on the Crusaders, while the Blues needed maximum points to keep alive their slim mathematical hopes of making the top eight.

The Blues have not beaten a New Zealand side since they downed the Highlanders in Round One last year and they have not won against the Chiefs, their nearest neighbours, in 12 matches dating back to 2011.

"We did enough to win. Piers had that opportunity with that kick at the end but it wasn't to be. But a draw is better than a loss," Blues captain James Parsons said.

"But, we've got to get better at finishing these New Zealand derbies."

Chiefs skipper Sam Cane agreed with Parsons that it was an unsatisfactory outcome.

"A draw's supposed to make you feel good but talking to both of us you probably wouldn't know that. To be completely honest we [the Chiefs] were probably a wee bit fortunate."

Hanging over the heads of all the New Zealand sides is the Lions Test series next month, with the All Blacks squad yet to be finalised.

Several players on both sides needed big performances to prove they remain frontline Test material, and it was 20-year-old Ioane who put his hand up highest.

He was constantly looking for work and was rewarded with the opening try when he was on hand to finish a move sparked by Williams' offload.

Where the Chiefs excelled was from regaining possession at the kick-off.

The first time, after Ioane's try, led to repeated attacks on the Blues line before the Chiefs undid their good work by giving away a penalty.

But the second time, after a Francis penalty, Brodie Retallick recovered the kick-off and the Chiefs went wide for McKenzie to scamper 40 metres to score.

Francis kicked three penalties for the Blues and converted Ioane's try while the Chiefs points came from the tries to McKenzie and Faauli, with McKenzie and Aaron Cruden both kicking penalties.

Man of the match: Steven Luatua and Blake Gibson put in massive workloads, Pierce Francis and Augustine Pulu did the basics very well in testing conditions. Then there was Rieko Ioane, not just on defence, but also making the hard yards with the ball in hand.  Chiefs prop Kane Hames won his battle with All Black veteran Charlie Faumuina. However, you can always bank on Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie to create the magic that turns the game and he wins our award.

The scorers:

For the Blues:
 R Ioane
Con: Francis
Pens: Francis 3

For the Chiefs:
 McKenzie, Faauli
Pens: McKenzie, Cruden


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 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 TJ Faiane.

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Solomon Alaimalo, 23 Shaun Stevenson.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)


There are currently no matches being played
Mon, 19 February 2018
NMMU-Madibaz v Wits 14h45 Port Elizabeth
Maties v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Cape Town
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 16h30 Cape Town
NWU-Pukke v UJ 17h00 Potchefstroom
Fri, 23 February 2018
Highlanders v Blues 06h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Reds 08h45 Melbourne
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 19h00 Irish Independent Park
Dragons v Edinburgh 19h30 Rodney Parade
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Leinster v Kings 19h35 RDS
France v Italy 20h00 Paris
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Bath v Sale Sharks 12h30 Recreation Ground
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Sun, 25 February 2018
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Blues 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 1 1 0 0 4
Lions 1 1 0 0 4
Sharks 1 0 0 1 1
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 1 0 0 1 0