Planet Rugby

Blues thrill Bloemfontein

01st March 2008 16:50

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Troy Flavell v cheetahs

Captain Fantastic: Troy Flavell leads his team to another huge win

The Blues continued their perfect start in the Super 14 with an entertaining 50-26 thrashing of the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

It was always going to be a fun game to watch. Both teams always aim to play exciting rugby. The Blues outscored their hosts seven tries to four, and Nick Evans was in fine form with the boot, kicking six conversions and a penalty.

It was a spirited display from the home side, but it was evident why the Blues have title ambitions while the Cheetahs are aiming to finish mid-table.

The Blues impressed with the speed with which they can get the ball out to their lethal wings. Add to that huge tackles, and you've got a deadly combination.

With a team full of All Blacks, the Blues made scoring tries look so simple, and the Cheetahs simply had no answer.

The Blues were one step ahead of the Cheetahs at every level, except the scrum. The Cheetahs pushed their visitors off their own ball twice in the scrum, the second tighthead resulting in the Cheetahs bonus-point try.

In sweltering conditions (it had reached 36 degrees earlier in the day), both teams were full of running.

The game started off with Blues full-back Isa Nacewa kicking brilliantly for territory, and he continued in the same vain for the entire game.

It took only five minutes for the Blues to score their first try. It was a lesson in how doing simple things right can be effective.

From close to half way, the ball was whipped out to Isaia Toeava, standing out wide, faster than you can say 'try time'. The big centre then turned on the pace to cash in from the overlap.

Nick Evans added two more and the writing was on the wall. But to their credit the Cheetahs bounced right back.

The Bloemfontein side's backs battled to penetrate the Blues defence with little luck, but when captain Juan Smith did just that, they were quick to profit from the space provided.

Meyer Bosman was on hand to take the pass and it was sent out wide to Gavin Passens who finished superbly in the corner.

That made the score 5-7, but that was as close as the Cheetahs would get.

In the aftermath of the try, Juan Smith was replaced by Kabamba Floors. Smith had looked impressive as usual and his departure was a huge loss for the men in white and orange.

It took the Blues no more than three minutes to reply to the Cheetah's try. Like the first, the Blues second try came from turn-over ball.

They stole a Cheetahs line-out and in a wink of an eye Joe Rokocoko was charging down the opposite touch line. He simply brushed past Jacques-Louis Potgieter to score the first of his three tries.

The situation looked ominous for the home side. It didn't look any better when Blues captain Troy Flavell pounced on a loose ball and sliced through the Cheetahs defence.

Nick Evans and Rudi Wulf did the rest and Wulf scored a try from a movement that started on the opposite side of the field.

The Cheetahs were under pressure and didn't attempt two kickable penalties, feeling forced to kick for territory to go for a try. On the second occasion it paid off, as JW Jonker went over to round-off the Cheetahs best passage of play.

That try just before half time must have given them some confidence as they went into the change rooms 21-12 down, having spent most of the half defending.

The Blues were having none of it though and it was that man Toeava again who made scoring his second try look like child's play.

The Cheetahs lacked fluidity in attack but managed to get Heinrich Brussow over in the corner. It was great effort from Brussow who managed to ground the ball despite the attention of three Blues defenders.

Replacement fly-half Conrad Barnard kicked the conversion and the Cheetahs must have felt they still had an outside hope with the scoreboard showing 28-19 to the team from New Zealand.

Rokocoko weighed in with another try but the Cheetahs again hit back, this time through Floors.

Anthony Tuitavake then scored the try of the evening with a brilliant solo effort that killed off any remaining hopes the Cheetahs might have harboured.

Joe Rokocoko helped himself to his hat-trick as the Blues maintained their perfect start to the season, scoring over fifty points for the second time in as many weeks.

Man of the match: A tough choice considering that the whole Blues side were excellent. Flavell and Mealamu were huge in defence and Nick Evans was his classy self. But who can deny the hat-trick man, Joe Rokocoko.

Moment of the match: Anthony Tuitavake's try was simply awesome. Some magic footwork had the Cheetahs defenders dazzled.

Villain of the match: The time keeper. He should have let the game go on for another 40 minutes!

For the Cheetahs:

Tries: Passens, Jonker, Brussow, Floors

Cons: Bosman, Barnard 2

For the Blues:

Tries: Toeava 2, Rokocoko 3, Wulf, Tuitavake

Cons: Evans 6

Pen: Evans

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Eddie Fredericks, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Gavin Passens, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Duanne Vermeulen, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Rory Duncan, 3 Kobus Calldo, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Wian du Preez.

Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Conrad Barnard, 22 Hendrik Meyer.

Blues: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Rudi Wulf, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Lee, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Justin Collins, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Troy Flavell (c), 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Onosa'i Tololima-Auva'a, 20 Taniela Moa, 21 Ben Atiga, 22 Anthony Tuitavake.

Referee: Brett Bowden (Australia)

Touch judges: Matt Goddard (Australia), Christie du Preez (South Africa)

Television match official: Michael Cupido (South Africa)

Assessor: Banks Yantolo (South Africa)

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