The Blues kept their Super Rugby play-off hopes alive on Friday with a hard-earned 21-13 win over the Waratahs at Eden Park.
The Blues kept their Super Rugby play-off hopes alive on Friday with a hard-earned 21-13 win over the high-flying Waratahs at Eden Park.
Having lost back-to-back games, the Blues shrugged off the disrupting of Benji Marshall's premature departure to outscore their visitors two tries to none.
Led by the superb Jerome Kaino, there was a marked improvement in the performance of key players for the Blues, who led from start to finish.
The Blues led 8-3 at the half-time break thanks to try set up by Ma'a Nonu and scored by wing Lolagi Visinia.
A try from Francis Saili early in the second half gave the Blues enough breathing room to mean that Jacques Potgieter's try for the Waratahs on the hour mark wasn't enough as the Australian side fell short of a losing bonus point.
The home side were first on the scoreboard when Simon Hickey sent over an early penalty after the 'Tahs were caught offside.
The hosts extended their lead at the end of the first quarter with a well-executed team try as Nonu's long pass out wide found Visinia on the touchline and the wing beat two defenders to score in the corner. Both Nonu and Visinia had played key roles in the build up and five points were just reward for the Blues' endeavour.
The conversion sailed wide though and Bernard Foley pulled three points back for the visitors just before the break to cut deficit to five points.
The killer blow came early in the second period via an excellent counter attacking try from the hosts. A crossfield from Foley fell into the hands of Visinia, who turned on the gas before offloading to Charlie Piutau. Francis Saili was up in support and powered his way to the line.
Hickey's conversion gave the Blues an 18-3 lead and the result looked settled.
The 'Tahs came back strongly however with Potgieter muscling his way over before Foley's conversion and a latter penalty brought the visitors within striking distance at 18-13.
The Blues would finish the stronger side though and a late Hickey penalty meant the 'Tahs would leave Eden Park empty handed.
Tries: Visinia, F. Saili
Pens: Hickey 3
Pens: Foley 2
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Steven Luatua, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Pita Ahki.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Pat McCutcheon, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Matt Carraro.
Date: Friday, April 25
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)