Planet Rugby

Blues blitz blows Highlanders away

02nd March 2007 08:39

Share:

The Blues, producing a three-try second-half blitz, blew the Highlanders away to record a 28-9 Super 14 Round Five victory and claim the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

The Highlanders held a 6-3 (all penalties) lead at the half-time break - but tries in the 42nd, 64th and 70th minutes saw the Blues race a away to a comfortable win.

The victory also entrenched the Blues at the top of the Super 14 standings.

It was a gripping match, more gripping than the half-time score suggests and more gripping than the final score suggests. The half-time score was bizarre as the Highlanders led 6-3. The final score suggests an easy win for the suave Blues.

It was not an easy win and to start off with they were not suave at all. they started with feverish self-destruction, conceding three penalties in the first six minutes - troy Flavell for a tackle around Jimmy Cowan's jaw, Greg Rawlinson for a shoulder in on a defenceless player and then David Gibson for hacking the ball in the Highlanders'' scrum. those three penalties made a 6-0 lead for the Highlanders who started as they had finished against the Stormers, running the ball with purpose and enthusiasm.

After that the Blue machine took over and the Highlanders defended making tackle after tackle.

If there were medals for bravery they should all go to Jimmy Cowan. It did not matter where they were or how big they were, Cowan brought them down. On two occasions he brought them down in his own in-goal and got his body under the ball to prevent the try.

the Highlanders were brave, the Blues incisive, none more so than Isaia Toeava who was fast and strong and made the early incisions for the Blues, setting them on the path to winning the Gordon Hunter trophy.

After a strong run by Toeava Doug Howlett lost the ball in Craig Clare's tackle at the line. then Daniel Braid won a turn-over as Cowan tried to run away from a rickety Highlanders' scrum and the ball went wide left where Rudi Wulf should have scored but opted to goose step and was bundled into touch.

When the Blues won a Highlanders' line-out Toeava was over the line, but Cowan curled foetally under him and prevented the try.

Because of their own bad mood and the Highlanders courage the Blues, great finishers, were finishing badly.

Luke McAlister kicked a penalty when Josh Blackie was penalised and half-time came with the score 6-3. Half-time came, too, with Clare carried off on a stretcher with an ankle injury which looked serious. His place was taken by young James Wilson who went to fullback with Glen Horton at centre..

The Blues started the second half with greater composure than they had started the first and imposed themselves on the Highlanders with greater physicality and speed.

From a line-out on their left the Blues went wide and Toeava was too fast and too strong as he beat Glen Horton on the outside.

But the Highlanders battered their way back and Evans goaled a third penalty to put the Highlanders 9-8 ahead. But there was much too much of the match left for them to last.

When Horton hung on in a tackle, a long penalty by McAlister on 52 minutes the muscular inside back put his side ahead for the first time in the match.

The Highlanders were on the attack after Cowan won a turn-over at a tackle but Lucky Mulipola was just out as the charged with promise down the left wing.

Howlett had a great break going left and Wulf was again tackled out near the corner. the next Blues score was a penalty goal to make the lead 14-9 after 59 minutes.

When Wilson's clearing kick from behind his line ended over his dead-ball line, the Blues had a five-metre scrum to the right of the posts. Toeava cut through powerfully. Knocked to ground by Cowan, he fell, stretched and scored to the left of the posts. McAlister converted. 21-9.

After this the Highlanders defence faltered somewhat, understandably in view of the numerous tackles they had made and Flavell was on hand to take an inside pass from Jerome Kaino and score. 28-9.

Then the Highlanders got their courage back and gave as good as they got for the last minutes of the match, denying the Blues a bonus point.

Man of the Match: For all the bustling purpose of Troy Flavell and Jerome Kaino and the incisiveness of Isaia Toeava, Doug Howlett and Isa Nacewa, but our Man of the Match is Jimmy Cowan who kept his side in the match and made it such a fascinating encounter.

The scorers:

For the Blues:

Tries: Toeava 2, Flavell

Cons: McAlister 2

Pens: McAlister 3

For the Highlanders:

Pens: Evans 3

Teams:

Blues: 15 Ben Atiga, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Isa Nacewa, 9 David Gibson, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Angus Macdonald, 5 Troy Flavell (c), 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Derren Witcombe, 1 Saimone Taumoepeau.

Replacements: 16 Sam Biddles, 17 Nick White, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Justin Collins, 20 Steve Devine, 21 Sam Tuitupou, 22 George Pisi.

Highlanders: 15 Glen Horton, 14 Lucky Mulipola, 13 Matthew Saunders, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Craig Clare, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Craig Newby, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Josh Blackie (c), 5 James Ryan, 4 Hoani MacDonald, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason MacDonald, 1 Clarke Dermody

Replacements: 16 David Hall, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Filipo Levi, 19 Hale T-Pole, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Aaron Bancroft, 22 James Wilson

Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)

Touch judges: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Willie Roos (South Africa)

Television match official: Josh Noonan (New Zealand)

Assessor: Alan Riley (New Zealand), Dennis Immelman (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Preview
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26