Blues pick up second win

Date published: May 2 2015

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The Blues claimed their second win of the Super Rugby season on Saturday as they were too good for the Western Force, winning 41-24 at Eden Park.

Akira Ioane was the star of the show for the hosts as he crossed for a wonderful individual score in the five-try performance in front of their fans in Auckland.

However, the Blues and New Zealand will be interested to hear the news on injured duo Jerome Kaino (finger) and Charles Piutau (knee), who both were withdrawn from the action in the 17th and 32nd minute respectively.

The Blues went in at the break 17-0 up after an assured first-half effort that saw them score two tries via Melani Nanai and Steven Luatau.

Luatua's crossing on the stroke of half-time proved decisive in the game as it gave the Blues a two-score cushion over a poor Force outfit.

It was fly-half Daniel Bowden who opened the scoring in the third minute when a run from centre George Moala led to Force number eight Ben McCalman going off his feet at a ruck. Bowden stepped up and landed the three before Luke Burton missed a long-range shot for the visitors.

Burton wasn't alone in being unsuccessful though as on eighteen minutes, Bowden was wayward with a simple attempt that stunned the player. Fortunately for him his blushes were short-lived as Nanai raced in five minutes later down the left touchline before Bowden kicked the two.

The Blues were now ten points to the good when Piutau joined Kaino on the sideline but they weren't done there in the half because after Western Force full-back Dane Haylett-Petty was yellow carded for taking out a man in the air, they launched a late-half onslaught on the whitewash.

First prop Tony Woodcock went close from a metre out before the resulting scrum saw Luatua race over off the back of the set-piece for 17-0.

The Blues were in no mood to let up in the second-half, as first Nanai grabbed his brace to cap a powerful break from Moala on 43 minutes and then with the score of the game five minutes later, with the impressive Ioane showing real pace from 40 metres to go in. Ihaia West made it 31-0.

Ioane had made well over 100 metres and beaten ten defenders by that point but it was the Force who struck next, showing good character as prop Pek Cowan crashed over to reduce the scoreline to 31-7 with centre Burton's conversion. However, pride was all they were playing for.

They reclaimed some of that with a second try on 60 minutes as captain Matt Hodgson went over, peeling off the back of a maul to score.

At 31-12, the Blues were smart in their mindset when they opted for three points via the boot of West to establish a healthier cushion for the last sixteen minutes. But then West struck with ball in hand to put the icing on the cake for his side, who looked high on confidence.

Scrum-half Ryan Louwrens did cross for a late try from close range for the Force on 69 minutes before McCalman went over as well, but the margin was simply too great for the visitors to recover from as the Blues claimed a comfortable victory.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Tries: Nanai 2, Luatua, Ioane, West
Cons: Bowden 2, Visinia, West 2
Pens: Bowden, West

For Force:
Tries: Cowan, Hodgson, Louwrens, McCalman
Cons: Burton, Ebersohn

Yellow Card: Haylett-Petty

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau. 14 Lolagi Visinia, 13 Francis Saili, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (c), 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Luke Braid, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Tevita Li.

Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Marcel Brache, 23 Junior Rasolea.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

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