Planet Rugby

Blues pocket five points

13th February 2009 12:29

Share:

Keven Mealamu Blues in Perth

Injury concern: After a strong start, Keven Mealamu was forced off in the second half

The Blues kicked off the 2009 Super 14 campaign with a bonus-point 25-19 win over the Western Force on Friday but a string of injuries to key players soured what was otherwise an emphatic win.

The stopover in Perth en route to South Africa looked a difficult prospect for the travelling Aucklanders but Pat Lam's team proved the stronger side in just about every sector of the game.

The Force had yet to win their opening fixture in three previous seasons of Super rugby and some sloppy defensive work at vital times ensured that that record remained in tact.

The Blues squandered a first-half tail wind and the lion's share of territory and possession to trail 14-8 when it was time to swap ends but a little more control and three second-half tries secured the five points.

Injuries to Keven Mealamu, Benson Stanley and Taniela Moa could leave the Blues weakened as they head to the Republic though.

"Too many mistakes," was Force captain Nathan Sharpe's immediate reaction after the match and was an accurate description of their disjointed effort.

Ryan Cross seemed to be saying "what for" when substituted in the second half, an indication that all is not well in the Force camp, despite their claims to the contrary.

The Force's error count simply did not allow them to build any kind of pressure on their visitors, who looked in impressive early season from.

Blues full-back Paul Williams opened the scoring with a penalty on the ten-minute mark to cap a period of sustained pressure from the visitors. The Force were lucky to escape with just the three points as Benson Stanley and Isaia Toeava had linked up to bring the Blues within touching distance of a try.

Despite the Blues dominating the early exchanges, they contrived to give possession away cheaply with poor kicking - perhaps trying too hard to profit from the wind at their backs.

The Force made their visitors pay by scoring the game's first try. As usual, Matt Giteau was the originator of the move, breaking the Blues line to set up a ruck under the posts. Two passes later and prop AJ Whalley produced a nifty sidestep to bisect two defenders and his power did the rest. Giteau added the extras and the Force moved four points ahead.

The home side then opened the gap when Wallaby wing Drew Mitchell sprinted the length of the field to score an intercept try. Giteau slotted the conversion from the touchline to put the Force eleven points clear - against the run of play.

The Blues finally touched down when number eight Chris Lowrey did a Superman dive over a ruck to score. Former Highlander Williams missed his conversion a few minutes before Anthony Tuitavake knocked-on in process of diving over for what would have been his side's second try. Pat Lam's troops seemed to be trying rather hard to throw this games away.

The Aucklanders decided to keep ball in hand a little more in the second half and the tactic paid off. The very first time they strung a significant amount of phases together - twelve to be precise - points were on offer as flank Justin Collins showed some neat footwork to round off down the touchline. Williams was off-target and the Blues continued to trail, but the writing was on the wall.

Anthony Boric was next to touch down, pirouetting and twisting his way through three defenders after gathering a high kick. He then turned on the gas to add five points. Williams' place-kicking nightmare got worse as the ball fell off the tee in the middle of his kicking action to be hoofed along the turf rather than through the posts.

It was all Blues, and when 98 kg scrum-half Taniela Moa scored the bonus-point try, the game looked done and dusted. 22 unanswered points and the visitors were cruising.

The Force weren't done yet though and try from replacement lock Tom Hockings a few minutes after coming on revived their hopes.

A late break from Giteau sent the Blues' hearts racing but they were quickly able to wrestle control back and shut the game down for a deserved win.

The Force will have to settle for a losing bonus point and in all honesty they didn't deserve much more.

Man of the match: Blues scrum-half Taniela Moa had a solid game at the base of the scrum but it was the men in front of him that did the real damage. The loose trio were all effective but lock Anthony Boric gets our vote. Apart from his try, he was solid in the line-outs and grafted hard at the rucks. What more could one ask from a second row?

The scorers

For the Force:

Tries: Whalley, Mitchell, Hockings

Cons: Giteau 2

For the Blues:

Tries: Lowrey, Collins, Boric, Moa

Cons: Williams

Pens: Williams

Western Force: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Haig Sare, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Josh Tatupu, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Chris O'Young, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Tamaiti Horua, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Pat O'Connor, 3 AJ Whalley, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Pek Cowan.

Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Troy Takiari, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 James O'Connor, 21 Nick Cummins, 22 Dane Haylett-Petty.

Blues: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Anthony Tuitavake, 13 Isaia Toeava, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Tasesa Lavea, 9 Taniela Moa, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Onosai'i Auva'a, 6 Justin Collins, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Dean Budd, 19 Peter Saili, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Jimmy Gopperth, 22 Jamie Helleur.

Venue: Subiaco Oval, Perth

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)

Touch judges: Nathan Pearce (Australia), Julian Pritchard (Australia)

TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821