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Blues edge wasteful Waratahs

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The Blues held off the Waratahs 21-24 in a tight, tense game at Brookvale Oval, Sydney.

The Kiwis’ victory is only their third on the road this season and it is their sixth in their last eight against the Waratahs.

The ‘Tahs outscored their opponents three tries to two, but could not find a way to break the Australian teams’ continuous losing streak against the New Zealand franchise.

The teams went into the break separated by four points, scoring two tries apiece.

The Blues took a ten-point lead after Rieko Ioane’s seventh-minute score and Stephen Perofeta’s first penalty of the evening.

The Waratahs hit back five minutes’ later through Damien Fitzpatrick after Dalton Papali’i was yellow carded.

Tumua Manu and Sekope Kepu traded tries before Perofeta made it 14-18 at the half.

The second-half was an arm-wrestle, with both teams failing to convert pressure into points.

Daryl Gibson’s men had the better of the second 40 minutes but were profligate in the red zone, coughing up possession time and again.

Perofeta kicked two more penalties to extend his side’s lead to 10 points after some ill-discipline from the home team.

Micheal Hooper gave the Australians hope with a 71st-minute try, but it was too little, too late for the Aussies.

Gibson’s side starts slowly, again.

The Waratahs endured a nightmare 0-29 loss at the hands of the Lions, at Allianz Arena.

They continued where they left off against the South Africans, taking 25 minutes to get on the scoreboard.

Bernard Foley missed an early penalty, and the Blues capitalised.

They went down the field, holding onto the ball and bashing their way over the advantage line.

New South Wales lost 27 turnovers against the Lions last week and they showed that they did not learn their lesson.

Kurtley Beale was isolated after a sloppy pass from Foley.

The Blues swarmed the breakdown, won the turnover and Rieko Ioane ran in for the opening score.

Ioane almost had a double. Augustine Pulu won the ball inside his 22 and played him into a big gap.

Cameron Clark chased the 21-year-old 90 metres and made a superb try-saving tackle.

Ioane was penalised for not releasing the ball after being brought to the ground, five metres out; the ‘Tahs had gotten lucky.

Perofeta added an 18th-minute penalty to his conversion, giving the visitors a grip on the contest.

The tide turned before the half-hour.

The game looked to be getting away from the hosts, but they dug in and defended stoutly.

The Waratahs took advantage of some errant play by the Kiwis.

Pulu’s poor pass was gathered by the home team, who counter-attacked from deep, losing the ball into touch.

Orbyn Leger kicked the ball directly out on the full, and from that little bit of luck, the Waratahs hit back.

Israel Folau set up and attack inside the Blues 22. He sent the ball wide to Clark, but the winger was tackled high and into touch by Papali’i.

The flanker was sent to the bin, and from the resulting driving maul, the light-blue jerseys powered forward over the visitor’s try-line.

All Fitzpatrick had to do was collect the ball at the back of the maul, control it and flop over the line.

It did not take long for the Blues to return the favour.

Tumua Manu was over in the corner four minutes’ later after some brilliance by Perofeta.

It came from a midfield break by the first-five, who played Matt Duffie with a beautiful chicken wing pass.

Duffie drew two defenders before floating a pass to Manu, who finished in style.

Perofeta’s second missed conversion was keeping the Waratahs in the contest.

Folau was having an influence in his return to Super Rugby.

The mercurial playmaker was making things happen, and all attacks went through the fullback.

Immediately after conceding, the Australians went down the field and scored.

The game was end-to-end, but most of the time the ball went to ground or someone was caught offsides.

A free-flowing attack was finally rewarded with points.

Folau found space, played Beale, who was tackled short of the line.

The ball was recycled quickly and Sekope Kepu trampled his way over the whitewash.

Foley’s conversion made it a one-point ball-game.

The Waratahs were caught offsides before halftime and Perofeta slotted another penalty.

Tactical battle.

The second stanza was an arm-wrestle, yet it was the home team who had the better of the play.

They camped inside the Blues’ half for much of the third quarter, but could not find a way to breach the opposition’s defence.

Gibson’s men had decided to play inside the opposition’s territory.

Beale was taking the ball at first receiver, putting in some wonderful kicks in behind the Blues, keeping them pinned inside their 22.

Folau lost the ball after a promising move and Jake Gordon was stopped short.

The Blues were hanging on, flooding the breakdown and winning turnovers which halted the Waratahs’ attacks.

As is with all New Zealand teams, they counter-attacked and took the points when they were on offer.

Skipper James Parson elected for posts whenever the Blues won a penalty in striking distance of the poles.

This might be because the Blues have not scored a try from a driving maul all season.

Perofeta’s 62nd-minute penalty extended his side’s lead to seven.

Both benches were being emptied and it was costly for the Waratahs, who conceded a scrum-penalty immediately after Kepu left the field.

Referee Jaco Peyper missed a knock on by the Blues and awarded them another kickable penalty.

It came after a promising eight-phase series of plays, allowing Perofeta another easy three points.

Time was running out for the home team, but they were offered a glimmer of hope when Hooper breached the Blues defence and scored near the posts.

The skipper took Beale’s well-timed inside pass and raced away untouched to offer his team hope of an unlikely win.

But that’s all it was; hope, because the Blues held out for another win on Australian soil.

Waratahs versus Blues video highlights.

Final score: Waratahs 21 (14) Blues 24 (18)

Scorers

Waratahs
Tries – Fitzpatrick, Kepu, Hooper
Pen –
Con – Foley (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Blues
Tries – R. Ioane, T. Manu
Pen – Perofeta (4)
Con – Perofeta
Drop –
Cards – Papali’i (Yellow, 24′)

Match Officials
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2: Will Houston
TMO: George Ayoub

Teams

Waratahs

15 Israel Folau, 14 Cameron Clark, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Will Miller, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.

Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Curtis Rona, 23 Bryce Hegarty.

Blues

15 Matt Duffie, 14 Tumua Manu, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (captain), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ross Wright.

Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Lyndon Dunshea, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Dan Kirkpatrick, 23 Terrence Hepetema.

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1 Comment

  1. John Jenkins

    5th May 2018 at 3:16 pm

    ”Gibson’s side starts slowly, again” – Tahs had a bye last weekend. The Lions game was the week before.

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