Planet Rugby

Blues take maximum in Wellington

23rd February 2013 08:17

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Blues wing Frank Halai after scoring

Two tries: Frank Halai

The Blues banished the memories of their 2012 season with a superb 34-20 bonus-point win over the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

Dubbed by many as being this year's basement side in the conference, the Blues shocked the Hurricanes by scoring four tries in the contest.

Frank Halai grabbed a brace while Charles Piutau and Rene Ranger also crossed, with Piri Weepu kicking the remaining points for the Aucklanders.

There were some home truths for the home side, however, as they couldn't recapture their hugely impressive 2012 form in their season opener.

Without the injured Cory Jane, the 'Canes came off second best to the promising Blues backline, which was marshalled well by veteran Weepu.

The Blues got off to a good start as fly-half Chris Noakes made a fine break and earned his side a penalty which Weepu slotted for a 3-0 lead.

However the Blues were unable to claim the ball from the re-start and immediately put themselves under pressure. Beauden Barrett nailed a penalty and followed up with another soon after.

The Blues looked dangerous on attack and it wasn't long before their back-three shone.

Following a line-out 20 metres from the Hurricanes' line, George Moala smashed his way through Conrad Smith before Rene Ranger fired a miss pass out to Halai who crossed.

However while there were plenty of exciting moments on attack, the Blues looked passive in defence and allowed the hosting hosts to make the most of their possession.

'Canes wing Julian Savea finished off a sustained period of play to go over in the corner, and Barrett's conversion gave the home side a 13-8 lead before Weepu narrowed matters.

The Blues came out for the second-half with renewed vigour and got stuck into their New Zealand counterparts. Once again it was fly-half Noakes who made the initial break before a second man play out wide saw full-back Charles Piutau crash over the line.

But in what looked to be a match defining call, TMO Vinny Munro controversially sin-binned Halai for purposely knocking the ball into the in-goal and awarded the hosts a penalty try.

With their backs against the wall, the young Blues outfit hit back the only way they knew how.

100-cap Weepu slotted a penalty goal to narrow the deficit to just a point with 20 minutes remaining, before outside centre Ranger celebrated his 50th game in style and put his side ahead with a brilliant try as he brushed off three defenders to fight his way over the line.

George Moala then intercepted the ball and raced 40 metres, and from the ensuing ruck the ball was spun wide as Halai crashed over for his second try. A penalty on full-time by Weepu put an exclamation mark on a fine performance as the Blues came away with five points.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Savea, Penalty
Con: Barrett 2
Pen: Barrett 2

For Blues:
Tries: Halai 2, Piutau, Ranger
Con: Weepu
Pen: Weepu 4

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 James Marshall, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 George Moala, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams (c), 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Bryn Hall, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Jackson Willison.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

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