Blues blow wobbly Waratahs away

23rd Mar 2007, 10:23

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The Blues moved back to the top of the Super 14 standings, for 24 hours at least, when they smashed an out of sorts Waratahs team 34-6 in the Round Eight match in Auckland on Friday.

The Blues moved back to the top of the Super 14 standings, for 24 hours at least, when they smashed an out of sorts Waratahs team 34-6 in the Round Eight match in Auckland on Friday.

The match was far more one-sided than the score suggests. There was only one team in it from start to finish.

The Blues had 74 percent of the territorial advantage whereas the Waratahs had just one late chance of scoring when a dash by Lachlan Turner and a penalty got them close, but with about five metres to go they ended the match with - another - pass into touch.

The Waratahs' handling was again wonky. At best they ran one at a time. When they tried to involve others their handling went awry.

The Blues, oddly enough, made more handling errors but then they made many, many more passes.

The Blues were better at everything. They ran interesting lines, made breaks, went through phases - 14 for Daniel Braid's try - played with confidence, supported far better, protected the tackled ball far better, scrummed better and won the tackle/ruck battle hands down. They were more alert and much more purposeful. They were less secure in the line-outs, but no worse than the Waratahs were.

In the second half Keven Mealamu became the first of the reconditioned All Blacks to get onto the field. He took a while to settle in. Of his first four line-out throws one was overthrown, one was skew and one was lost. After that it got better.

The scrum was again a worry for the Waratahs. They were penalised at the first two scrums of the match and each time Al Baxter was the player singled out. The referee said to Adam Freier: "I want him off the arm." When Baxter was "off the arm" the Waratahs were shoved around in the scrums.

The Waratahs are the least penalised team in the Super 14 but on Friday they were penalised 11 times and had their first yellow card - for Will Caldwell who in a short space was observed tackling Jerome Kaino in the air and then grabbing Justin Collins around the neck.

It was not a good evening for the Waratahs, probably more demoralising than the runaway score.

The Blues duly got their bonus point but with greater difficulty than expected. They got two tries in the first half and a third after 50 minutes. It took them 24 minutes and Caldwell absent for them to get their fourth.

Luke McAlister opened the scoring when Baxter was penalised at the first scrum but then missed one when Baxter was penalised at the second scrum. After that his kicking was impeccable.

Determined Braid got the first try as the Blues rushed through phases. He straightened up and went past Benn Robinson, Kurtley Beale and Lachlan Turner to plunge over for the try.

When Kaino was penalised for tackling high, Peter Hewat made it 10-3 but soon afterwards Troy Flavell set a try in motion and then finished it off.

The Waratahs threw into a line-out and Rocky Elsom caught the ball but held it high. Flavell then knocked it back to his side. Derren Witcombe sped down the left touch-line and gave the ball to Chris Heard. Tackled the prop got the ball inside to his captain who had a straight, unimpeded run to the line. McAlister converted from far out.

When Kaino was penalised for going in the side of a maul, Hewat made the score 17-6 at half-time.

In the second half the Blues started proving that they were powerful in the maul and then, having established that, proceeded to run the Waratahs ragged, though not quite ragged enough to destroy the Waratahs defence entirely.

McAlister kicked a penalty and then Flavell won a turn-over off Morgan Turinui. Greg Rawlinson picked up the loose ball and after a few meters gave to scrum-half Steve Devine who skipped on a 30-metre run for the try. 27-6.

When Caldwell was sent to the sin bin, the Blues had a five-metre line-out from which they mauled and then bashed. David Holwell was over the line but held up. From the five-metre scrum, Kaino gave to David Gibson who immediately played inside to Flavell who went over untouched. That was the bonus-point try.

Man of the Match: Kurtley Beale was again the best of the Waratahs. He handled so much better than any of his older team-mates and was the one Waratah who could beat a Blue. Doug Howlett was busy and has now a deadly tackle in his armour, as Turner experienced. Isaia Toeava had a splendid match, astonishingly strong for a young player. Steve Devine was lively and the three loose forwards all had good moments as did the locks. But our Man of the Match is Derren Witcombe , the hooker, who ran well with the ball, scrummed well and had just one failure with a line-out throw.

The scoring:

For the Blues:
Tries: Braid, Flavell 2, Devine
Cons: McAlister 4
Pens: McAlister 2

For the Waratahs:
Pens: Hewat 2

Yellow card: Will Caldwell (Waratahs, 72 - foul play, high tackle)

Teams:

Blues: 15 George Pisi, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Rudi Wulf, 10 Isa Nacewa, 9 Steve Devine, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Angus Macdonald, 5 Troy Flavell (c), 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Derren Witcombe, 1 Chris Heard.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Nick White, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Justin Collins, 20 David Gibson, 21 David Holwell, 22 Ben Atiga.

Waratahs: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Sam Norton-Knight, 13 Lote Tuqiri, 12 Morgan Turinui, 11 Lachlan Turner, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 David Lyons, 7 Wycliff Palu, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Will Caldwell, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Alastair Baxter, 2 Adam Freier (c), 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Ben Hand, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Ben Jacobs, 23 Tim Davidson, 24 Sam Harris

Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Touch judges: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Steve Walsh (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel (New Zealand), Brian Kinsey