Blues end winless run against Sharks

Date published: April 16 2016

The Blues' recent revival continued when they claimed a hard-fought 23-18 victory over the Sharks in Auckland on Saturday.

The win was a significant one for the home side as it ended a 10-match losing streak against the Sharks, but they had to dig deep to clinch the result. 

In a tightly contested clash momentum between the two sides ebbed and flowed, but it was the hosts who got the rub of the green in the end coming away with a deserved victory.

The Sharks will be kicking themselves, however, as they were in control for large periods, but a late surge from the home side capped off by Rieko Ioane's try proved to be enough to get them over the line.

Both sides crossed for two tries with Blues pivot Ihaia West finishing with a 13-point haul thanks to three penalties and two conversions.

The game came alive in the 10th minute when Sharks captain Beast Mtawarira crossed for the opening try, after Ihaia West had given the Blues the lead via a penalty five minutes earlier.

Mtawaria spotted a gap at a ruck close to the Blues' try line and caught the defence napping when he barged over for a deserved try.

The home side stayed true to their attacking style and ran the ball from all areas of the field in a bid to narrow the gap. They were eventually rewarded when George Moala dived over for their opening try, shortly before half-time, after West was stopped just short of the Sharks' tryline in the build-up.

West added the extras, which meant the Sharks led 11-10 at the interval but the visitors extended their lead soon after the restart thanks to a moment of magic from Willie le Roux.

The Bok full-back showed his class when he put Paul Jordaan into a gap with a sleight of hand, just outside the Blues' 22. Jordaan still had work to do but outpaced the cover defence before crossing the whitewash for his side's second try. 

West added another penalty shortly afterwards which kept the Blues in the game before Jordaan returned the favour for le Roux, when he stabbed a grubber kick through deep inside the Blues' 22. Le Roux couldn't gather, however, and knocked on close to the home side's try line.

That fumble would prove to be costly as five minutes later Rieko Ioane would leave his stamp on the match with a superb individual try.

After running onto a pass from his brother Akira, on the halfway line, the New Zealand Sevens flyer showed a superb turn of speed and deft footwork to beat five defenders before crossing for his side's second try.

West added the extras which meant the Blues led 20-18 with 15 minutes left to play.

The hosts had their tails up after that try while the Sharks committed several unforced errors as they tried to regain the lead.

It wasn't to be for the men from Durban and West eventually sealed victory with a penalty for the hosts with the final kick of the match.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Moala, R Ioane
Cons: West 2
Pens: West 3

For Sharks:
Mtawarira, Jordaan
Con: Pietersen
Pens: Pietersen 2

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Rieko Ioane, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Tanerau Latimer or Kara Pryor, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Hoani Matenga, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Sam Prattley
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Namatahi Waa, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Kara Pryor or Joe Edwards, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 George Moala

Sharks: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Daniel du Preez, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (c)
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Garth April, 23 Odwa Ndungane

Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert, Paul Williams
TMO: Ben Skeen