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Blues ease to victory over Reds

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The Blues cruised to a 39-16 victory over the Reds, in a game played in ice-cold conditions at Eden Park, Auckland.

Tana Umaga’s men scored five tries to two in a scrappy game where the Reds dominated the scrum but not the scoreboard.

The win gave match-day captain Jerome Kaino a fitting send-off in his last game for the Blues.

The game was effectively over after Queensland received two harsh yellow cards inside the space of two minutes at 8-6 down.

The Auckland outfit took immediate advantage, scoring two unconverted tries and a penalty, notching up a lead that would prove unassailable for the Australians.

Despite dominating the scrums, the Reds continue their terrible away run in New Zealand.

They have now lost nine of their last 11 away matches against the Blues.

Reds start strong.

Jono Lance kicked two early penalties to give the visitors a 3-6 15-minute lead, however, the game turned after Melani Nanai’s try, five-minutes’ later.

The Blues had been poor in the first quarter, their handling was poor, their attacking erratic and their set-pieces were abysmal.

Alex Hodgman was penalised for two of the three scrum-penalties and the Blues had also lost two restarts.

The Blues increased the pressure after Nanai’s score, but there were two tough calls on the visitors that turned the game.

Jordan Petaia was yellow-carded for a tip-tackle on Michael Collins and Taniela Tupou was binned for a ‘grass-cutter’ which looked worse in slow-motion.

The floodgates open.

Umaga’s men took advantage, extending their slim lead to 21-6, killing the Aussie challenge.

Stephen Perofeta, the effervescent Rieko Ioane and Matt Moulds all crossed the whitewash inside a six-minute blitz.

Perofeta’s radar was off or the lead would have been more.

Sam Nock’s quick thinking and quick-tap penalty on halfway, saw Rieko Ioane cross for his 20th Super Rugby try after some slick handling.

Akira Ioane starred with another beast of a performance. The No. 8 was monumental in starting and finishing attacking moves.

Ioane, from the base of the scrum, made a break inside his half, racing away up the field.

The ball was recycled quickly, a couple of phases later, Matt Duffie made a mini-break before offloading to Moulds for the score.

The Reds had a chance before the break, but they could not take advantage of their five-metre driving maul.

Perofeta kicked an early second-half penalty to make it 24-6, giving the blues an 18-point cushion.

The Reds’ scrum continued to dominate, in fact, such was their domination Umaga pulled Hodgman and put an end to the loosehead’s misery.

Despite the mismatch in the scrums, the Aussies could not conjure up any clear-cut scoring opportunities.

Instead, it was the home team’s first-five eight who crossed next after some sustained pressure on the Queensland goal-line broke the Reds’ resistance.

At 31-6 down, it was all about stopping humiliation for the visitors, however, they dug deep and found a way to get some points of their own.

Thanks to their superior set-pieces, they did not.

Caleb Timu came off the bench and made an immediate impact. His ball carrying and powerful leg-drive gave the Reds some go-forward.

Another barnstorming run in the 62nd-minute resulted in Duncan Paia’aua’s try.

Matiaha Martin was sent to the bin for repeated infringements on the Blues’ try-line.

Sione Mafileo was sin-binned soon after. Alex Mafi flopped over the line after a good driving maul.

Bryn Gatland halted any chance of a late – and unlikely – comeback with a penalty

Akira Ioane made another break wich set-up a five-metre scrum in the corner.

Another score duly arrived when Caleb Clarke barged his way over for his first Super Rugby try.

Blues versus Reds video highlights.

Final score: Blues 39 (16) Reds 16 (6)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – Nanai, R. Ioane, Moulds, Perofeta, Clarke
Pen – Perofeta (3), Gatland
Con – Perofeta
Drop –
Cards – Martin (Yellow, 62′), Mafileo (Yellow, 68′)

Reds
Tries – Paia’aua, Mafi
Pen – Lance (2)
Con –
Drop –
Cards – Petaia (Yellow, 23′), Tupou (Yellow, 25′)

Match Officials
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 1: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 2: Glen Jackson
TMO: Ben Skeen

Teams

Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino (captain), 5 Matiaha Martin, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman

Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Thomas Faiane.

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Hamish Stewart, 9 Moses Sorovi, 8 Scott Higginbotham (Captain), 7 George Smith, 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Harry Hockings, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith.

Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Caleb Timu, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Aidan Toua, 23 Filipo Daugunu.

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