Blues dominate Highlanders 30-12
March 29, 2014
The Blues found plenty of holes in the Highlanders defence and made several breaks
© Getty Images
The Blues have gone top of the New Zealand Conference with a comfortable 30-12 Super Rugby win over the Highlanders in Auckland. The result at Eden Park on Saturday night improved the Blues' win-loss record to 3-3 and put them above defending champions the Chiefs among New Zealand sides.
However, the Chiefs have played two games fewer and have the chance to go back above their neighbours when they face the Bulls in Pretoria on Sunday morning (NZT).
The Blues scored three tries to nil against the Highlanders as they gave themselves a measure of revenge after their 29-21 defeat in Dunedin in February. Given the compressed nature of the NZ conference before the start of the round, the southerners would also have gone top had they won. Instead, they remain fourth with a 2-3 record.
The Blues showed improvement in their work at the scrum and the breakdown, while the firepower in their backs played its part in the victory. Tries to inside centre Ma'a Nonu and fullback Charles Piutau on either side of half-time helped the home side to kick away after what had been a tight contest.
Half-back Bryn Hall provided the spark for the first, five minutes before the break. Hall, in the starting side with All Black Piri Weepu ruled out for at least a month after suffering a minor stroke, made a snipe that was stopped short of the line. Nonu was on hand at the breakdown and was driven over by hard-working loose forward Steven Luatua.
Nine minutes into the second half, Piutau finished off a concerted attack by the Blues and Simon Hickey's conversion as part of a personal haul of 15 points blew the margin out to 27-12.
Earlier, winger George Moala got the Blues' opening try with a powerful 25m run. Three penalties to Highlanders five-eighth Lima Sopoaga put the visitors ahead 9-7, but they never really threatened again when the Blues got back in front.
Highlanders prop Kane Hames has been cited for a dangerous charge after his elbow struck Blues forward Hayden Triggs in the back of head, leaving the lock in need of medical treatment midway through the second half.
The Blues took control of the match early and remained dominant throughout the match (Australia Only)
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September