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Blues brothers leave Cheetahs licking their wounds

The Blues celebrate a try by Blues' Patrick Tuipulotu during the Super Rugby match between New Zealand's Blues and South Africa's Cheetahs at Eden Park in Auckland on May 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MICHAEL BRADLEY (Photo credit should read MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ioane brothers starred with three tries for the Blues as they eased to a comfortable 50-32 victory over the Cheetahs at Eden Park in Auckland.

Rieko scored a brace and Akira one, as the New Zealanders romped to an eight-try bonus-point win. This was another bleak day for South African rugby.

These are lean times indeed. The teams from the Republic are finding it every bit as tough as the Australians. The Stormers are the only side to get a win against New Zealand opposition.

The Kiwis scored four first-half tries to two, through Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu and one apiece from the Ioane brothers as they led 24-18.

The Cheetahs scored through skipper Francois Venter and Torsten van Jaarsveld, while Fred Zeilinga’s boot kept them in touching distance.

However, the Blues went up a gear and blew the South Africans away with tries from Steven Luatua, Augustine Pulu, Rieko Ioane and Melani Nanai.

Elandré Huggett came off the bench to score a double for the Free State side, but it was scant consolation.

The opening 40 minutes was a close affair; the Cheetahs staying close to their hosts, trailing by just six points at the break.

Venter opened the scoring with a powerful leg drive before Rieko Ioane’s first try put the Blues ahead.

George Moala collected the pass from Pulu, passed to Nanai, on the angle. The fullback straightened and burst through the tackle, offloaded to Ioane, who ran clear for the score.

Van Jaarsveld scored next after a lineout driving maul from the Cheetahs to make it 7-12.

On 18 minutes, Luatua took a crash ball in the first channel. The Blues recycled quickly, Pulu sent a pass to the Scrafton, barged over Raymond Rhule and scored under the posts.

Piers Francis’ conversion gave the Blues a two-point lead at the end of the opening quarter. The home team would not relinquish the lead.

The Ioane brothers combined for Akira’s try before Tuipolotu extended the lead with a wonderful forwards combination by Tana Umaga’s side.

It was the Harlem Globetrotters from the Blues. The forwards’ basketball style offloads and spin moves from Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Tuipulotu and Scrafton on the left-hand touchline.

The lock spun out of a tackle and charged over the whitewash to make it 24-12. Zeilinga kicked two late penalties to cut the deficit.

Umaga’s team ran riot in the second half with three quick scores, breaking any hopes the Cheetahs might have had.

First, Charlie Faumuina made a break and offloaded to the Luatua, who crashed over under the sticks. The Blues went several phases before crossing the line to extend their lead to 31-18.

Then, Luatua made a break and offloaded out the back door to Tuipulotu. The lock knocked the ball backwards and Pulu gathered the loose ball to run in untouched.

On 53 minutes, Rieko Ioane scored again. It all started with Melani Nanai’s quick thinking. The fullback was tackled, released the ball, picked it up and charged up the field.

It all started with Melani Nanai’s quick thinking. The fullback was tackled, released the ball, picked it up and charged up the field.

The ball was recycled quickly and the Blues sent it through the hands. Akira Ioane broke down the sideline and offloaded to his younger brother, in support, who ran in for his second score.

The Cheetahs missed 24 tackles to the Blues’ four as they wilted under every attack. The Free Sate’s lineout and driving maul were excellent, though.

Huggett scored either side of Nanai’s score, both from powerful driving mauls, but the Blues were never in danger as the clock ticked down on the Cheetahs.

Final score: Blues 50 (24) Cheetahs 32 (18)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – R. Ioane (2), Scrafton, A. Ioane, Tuipolotu, Luatua, Pulu, Nanai
Pen –
Con – Francis (2), West (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Cheetahs
Tries – F. Venter, Van Jaarsveld, Huggett (2)
Pen – Zeilinga (2)
Con – Zeilinga (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 2: Angus Mabey
TMO: Aaron Paterson

Teams

Blues

15 Melani Nanai, 14 Declan O’Donnell, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.

Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Michael Collins.

Cheetahs

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Niell Jordaan, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.

Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Armandt Koster, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Clinton Swart