Blues blow away Hurricanes
April 13, 2013
Charles Piutau was just one of the Blues' stars against the Hurricanes
© Getty Images
The Blues produced a stunning performance to complete a double against the Hurricanes, outclassing the visitors in all facets of the game at Eden Park. The Hurricanes arrived in Auckland on the back of a four-match winning streak but they were no match for the Blues, who had previously defeated their rivals in Wellington in round two.
Frank Halai, Charles Piutau, James Parsons and Tom McCartney had the 23,387 Eden Park crowd in raptures with tries either side of half-time, while the visitors, starved of possession and field position, mustered only a dropped goal and a penalty to Tusi Pisi and Beauden Barrett respectively. With the win, the Blues climbed into second in the New Zealand conference on 27 points, two points behind the Chiefs.
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett may have placed Pisi at fly-half to bolster the middle defensive channel, but their blindside needed attention after the Blues struck when Piri Weepu embarked on his first snipe down the short side. Receiving Weepu's offload, Piutau breezed through the challenge of Julian Savea before handing onto Chris Noakes, who found the barnstorming Halai on his inside to score unopposed under the posts.
The Blues combined rapier attack with brutal defence (video available only in Australia)%]
The Hurricanes remained in the hunt through Pisi's tactical kicking that turned into pressure as the Blues fumbled around in their own half, and Blues coach Sir John Kirwan would have had his half-time spray on the tip of his tongue as Barrett landed a penalty goal to pull the visitors within a single point after Pisi had slotted a dropped goal.
The Blues bombed a number of try-scoring opportunities with poor handling, and Hurricanes prop Ben Franks stopped another with the highlight moment of the first half when he sprinted back to haul down Halai. But Piutau darted across the chalk on the half-time siren, after a period of sustained pressure in which the impressive Steven Luatua had been held up over the line, and the Blues went into the break with an eight-point buffer more illustrative of their dominance.
The Blues picked up after half-time where they had left off before the break, and Parsons crossed soon after the restart. Piutau then looked to have scored a second try, but he was held up by a fine defensive effort. The Blues would not be denied for long, however. Finally able to build pressure for an extended number of phases, it was all too simple as McCartney muscled his way over to secure a much-needed bonus point and put the result beyond doubt.
Savea thought he had scored a consolation try at the death, having intercepted a loose pass from Luatua, but the score was pulled back because the Blues backrower had put a foot in touch while making the pass.
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand with Sportal
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
The Wallabies showed flair in Dublin, but they still have a way to go if they are to do more than make up the numbers at the World Cup, writes Greg Growden
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales' lessons to learn in defeat by New Zealand are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards