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Blues hold off Jaguares to earn second victory

Rene Ranger attacks for the Blues against the Jaguares

The Blues earned their second victory of the Super Rugby season by beating the Jaguares 24-16 at QBE Stadium, North Harbour Auckland.

The Blues victory ends a three match losing streak in Albany for the Auckland side who last won at their second home stadium in 2013.

Auckland’s Blues outscored their Argentinian opponents by two tries to one in the match so neither team earn a bonus point from the contest.

A yellow card in the 22nd minute to Tevita Li kicked the Blues into action in a game that seldom reached great heights.

Instead missed tackles and lost possession were the order of the day with only occasional patches of quality as Tana Umaga’s Blues snared their second win of the season.

For the Jaguares it was their fourth consecutive defeat since winning their opening game against the Cheetahs, and a late Ihaia West penalty denied them a bonus point for a narrow loss.

The Argentinean side made nine changes for the game and omitted a host of senior players, including captain Agustin Creevy.

But it was the Blues who were the most disorganised in the opening exchanges which saw the Jaguares up 6-0 midway through the first half from two penalties by Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias.

The Blues continued to do their best to aid the Jaguares when a Lolagi Visinia clearing kick hit teammate Steven Luatua and rebounded over the deadball line.

At the other end of the field, a Luatua pass went behind James Parsons who had an open run to the try-line five metres away.

But after the second penalty for the Jaguares when Li was yellow carded for repeatedly being offside, the Blues started to cut their error rate and put a bit of structure into their game.

“It wasn’t pretty,” captain Parsons acknowledged, noting the Blues were in trouble early on.

“We reacted well to it, stayed positive then when we got a chance to keep it down here we did.”

In the closing 10 minutes of the first half the Blues chalked up 15 points with tries to Luatua and West, with West adding a conversion and penalty.

West’s try was the result of a long-range counter-attack and an astute break by Rene Ranger following a misdirected Jaguares clearing kick.

A penalty to Iglesias and two more to West saw the Blues leading 21-9 with 20 minutes remaining before a Gonzalo Bertranou try converted by Nicolas Sanchez cut the margin to five points.

But their hopes of a late comeback were thwarted by West’s fourth penalty, which ensured the win for the Blues.

However, scrum-half Martin Landajo, standing in for Creevy as captain, said despite being on the losing side, his tournament newcomers relished the experience gained from the match

“This is new for us, first tournament here. We are enjoying it, we are learning every match. We enjoy playing with the best teams in the world so we are having fun.”

Next week the Blues play the Chiefs at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton while the Jaguares travel to Wellington to play the Hurricanes.

Final Score Blues 24 (15) Jaguares 16 (6)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – S.Luatua, I.West
Pen – I. West 4
Con – I.West
Drop –
Cards – T.Li (22nd min yellow)

Jaguares
Tries – G.Bertranou
Pen -S. González Iglesias 3
Con – N.Sanchez
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1:Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2:Angus Mabey
TMO :Ben Skeen

Teams

Blues

Nic Mayhew, James Parsons (c), Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh Bekhuis, Joe Edwards, Blake Gibson, Steven Luatua; Bryn Hall, Ihaia West, Tevita Li, Piers Francis, Rene Ranger, Rieko Ioane, Lolagi Visinia.

Replacements: Quentin MacDonald, Sam Prattley, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Hoani Matenga, Akira Ioane, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, George Moala.

Jaguares

1- Roberto Tejerizo , 2- Julián Montoya , 3- Ramiro Herrera , 4- Guido Petti , 5- Tomás Lavanini , 6- Pablo Matera, 7- Rodrigo Báez , 8- Leonardo Senatore , 9- Martín Landajo (c) , 10- Santiago González Iglesias , 11- Manuel Montero , 12- Jerónimo de la Fuente , 13- Matías Moroni , 14- Emiliano Boffelli , 15- Ramiro Moyano

Replacements :16- Facundo Bosch , 17- Santiago García Botta , 18- Enrique Pieretto , 19- Juan Cruz Guillemaín , 20- Felipe Arregui , 21- Gonzalo Bertranou , 22- Nicolás Sánchez , 23- Joaquín Paz