The Reds compounded the Blues' woes in Super Rugby by claiming a 23-11 victory over the New Zealanders at Eden Park on Friday.
The Reds compounded the Blues' woes in Super Rugby by sealing a 23-11 victory at Eden Park on Friday.
From the scoreline the game was won and lost in the first six minutes as the hungry Reds scored two quick-fire tries that had the Blues flailing.
Digby Ioane and Luke Morahan were the men who contributed to the basement-sitting Blues' downfall as further pressure heaps on Pat Lam.
Once again the set-piece was a major concern for the Blues, especially early on as a lack of retained possession proved to be their Achilles heel. The Reds did not need a second invitation to come out of the blocks firing though as they took just two minutes to get over the line, in their first spell. That score came almost from the first kick-off as, after reclaiming the kick-off, the Queenslanders went through the phases before Ioane burrowed over.
Mike Harris could not knock over the extras from wide out against his former employers but the message was sent to the shell-shocked Blues that the Reds, despite all their playmaking injuries this campaign, were not champions for nothing. The visitors would soon be back to further emphasise their intent.
That came only four minutes later in a glaring representation of poor Blues defence in back-play. Wallaby scrum-half Will Genia immediately spotted the frailties wider out and looked for width, which led to George Moala being caught in no man's land against two attackers and the rest was history as full-back Morahan had a simple passage to the line. This time Harris was on-target and the scoreline made for painful reading for the Blues at 0-12.
Pat Lam's ailing outfit needed a foothold and fast on the slippery surface due to the torrential rain that had bucketed down just before kick-off, and after some encouraging passages they were finally on the board courtesy of Luke Braid, who dotted down under a mass of bodies.
That critical score in terms of the Blues' hopes of victory was in the midst of continued troubles at the line-out, while their dismal back-play was leaving something to be desired.
It was 5-12 going past the half-hour in what was a fair reflection of how things had played out between a duo desperate for the points. Gareth Anscombe and Harris then traded a penalty apiece to send them in at 8-15 but it was a case of deja vu after the turnaround.
Out came the Reds again with real intent and this time it took them four minutes to cross the whitewash via wing Dom Shipperley, who scooted over the line after Genia's beautifully-weighted pass found its recipient on the right touchline. It was a hammer blow for the Blues.
That made it 8-20 to the Reds and despite the Blues showing a touch more quality with ball in hand, especially when Benson Stanley and Michael Hobbs entered the fray, a sole Anscombe penalty was their only offering in the second 40. The Reds meanwhile turned down going for the bonus-point and instead took a further three from Harris on 74 minutes.
Victory lifts the Reds up to second in the Australian conference, just a point behind the Brumbies, while the Blues are sitting rock bottom. They go to the Hurricanes next week.
Tries: L Braid
Pen: Anscombe 2
Tries: Ioane, Morahan, Shipperley
Pen: Harris 2
Blues: 15 Hadleigh Parkes, 14 George Moala, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Luke Braid (c), 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Ali Williams, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Chris Lowrey, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Michael Hobbs, 22 Benson Stanley.
Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Digby Ioane, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Rod Davies, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Beau Robinson, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jake Schatz, 20 Ed Quirk, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Faingaa.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Television match officials: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)