Planet Rugby

Five-try Blues put Reds to the sword

02nd May 2014 10:36

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Bryn Hall Blues v Reds SR 2014

Try-scorer: Bryn Hall

The Blues' revival continued after they secured the a deserved 44-14 victory over the Reds in Auckland on Friday.

The hosts delivered a dominant display, none more so than All Blacks midfielder Ma'a Nonu who was back to his best after several below-par performances in his side's previous matches.

The Blues' dominance led to them holding a commanding 34-0 lead during the early stages of the second half.

The home side raced into an early 6-0 lead, thanks to two penalties from Simon Hickey inside the opening quarter.

They didn't have things going all their own way, however, as Quade Cooper missed two penalty attempts which would have drawn the visitors level.

The Brisbane-based franchise thought they had narrowed the gap to a point, in the 23rd minute, when Liam Gill crossed the whitewash but referee Nick Briant disallowed his effort, after consulting the television match official, who ruled that Gill was tackled by Tom Donnelly in the build-up. Gill had gone to ground after Donnelly's challenge but broke free before setting off towards the try-line.

The Blues' early dominance continued when Bryn Hall was in the clear down the left-hand touchline, on the half hour mark, but Will Genia saved the day for the visitors with a try-saving tackle inside his 22.

The home side extended their lead shortly afterwards when Lolagi Visinia raced onto a perfectly-weighted skip pass from Nonu which had the Reds' defence at sixes and sevens. Visinia was heading towards the Reds' try-line but had the presence of mind to throw an inside pass to Jackson Willison, who got in for the game's opening try.

That was also Willison's final act of the match as he left the field with a pulled hamstring shortly afterwards. Hickey added the extras and things went from bad to worse for the Reds when James Slipper was sent to the sin bin for a tip-tackle on Peter Saili.

The Blues made there numerical advantage count thanks to a moment of brilliance from Nonu. The All Blacks centre showed his class when he stabbed through a grubber kick, past the on-rushing Reds' defence and Visinia dived onto the ball behind the visitors' try-line to leave Hickey with an easy shot at goal which he duly converted.

This gave the hosts a commanding 20-0 lead at half-time but there was more to come after the break, especially from Nonu, who was the also the architect of the hosts' third try in the 42nd minute.

Nonu beat two defenders, inside the Reds' 22, before offloading to Hall who got in for the five-pointer. The Blues then turned on the style and were rewarded with their fourth try thanks to superb counter-attacking, from just inside their half.

After taking the ball into the Reds' 22 with their backs, Nonu threw a long pass to Frank Halai who was stopped just short of the line. The big wing managed to free his hands and got a pass away to Donelly who barged over despite the attentions of two defenders.

The Reds were under the cosh, at 34-0, but got back into the game when Tony Woodcock was yellow carded in the 52nd minute after throwing a punch at Ed Quirk.

The visitors struck back shortly afterwards with a try from a driving maul by Ben Daley which Cooper converted. Hickey then added a penalty which gave the hosts a 34-7 lead.

Reds skipper James Horwill got another five-pointer from close quarters but the Blues were not done yet.

With the bonus-point secured, they rang the changes and replacement Ihaia West got his name onto the scoresheet with a runaway try in the 78th minute. This after gathering an offload from Charles Piutau, who had intercepted a wayward Nick Frisby pass about 60 metres out.

West converted his own try which was the final nail in the visitors' coffin.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Tries: Willison, Visinia, Hall, Donnelly, West
Cons: Hickey 4, West
Pens: Hickey 3
Yellow card: Woodcock (52nd minute, punching)

For Reds:
Tries: Daley, Horwill
Con: Cooper 2
Yellow card: Slipper (35th minute, tip tackle)

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Peter Saili, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Steven Luatua, 22 Ihaia West, 23 George Moala.

Reds: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Rod Davies, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Ben Lucas, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)

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