Blues

Blues hold on to beat Bulls and earn third win

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The Blues earned their third victory of the 2015 season by beating the Bulls
23-18 at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

The victory is the Blues third in a row at Eden Park which is becoming something
of a fortress for the struggling Auckland side.

Both teams scored two tries each and the difference came down to kicks with Ihaia West being successful with three penalties and both conversions over Handre Pollard’s two penalties and a missed conversion.

The Blues’ victory over the Bulls may have come at a cost though as captain
Steven Luatua was forced to leave the field on a stretcher with what looked
to be a severe arm injury.

The Blues remain in 13th place overall but the Bulls losing bonus point moves them to the top of the South African Conference and into second place overall.

The Bulls dominated territory and possession but could not convert it into
points against the unfancied Blues, denting their chances of making the play-offs.

Two tries to centre Jan Serfontein were not enough in a tight match where the
lead changed five times but the bulk of chances fell to the South Africans.

‘”We made too many mistakes,'” captain Pierre Spies said, adding that
the Bulls were determined to bounce back on a tough road trip featuring the
Chiefs, Brumbies and Rebels.

The Eden Park match was a perfect opportunity for the Bulls to gain ground
the inactive Stormers in the South African conference.

But they will be lucky to retain the top spot in the SA conference as the Lions
are within striking distance.

For the Blues, whose finals hopes are long gone, the win salvaged some pride
amid a dismal season and retained their unbeaten record at Eden Park this year.

‘”We’ve had our backs against the wall for most of the year and to see
the boys come out with a performance like this shows we’ve got a real strong
backbone,'” Keven Mealamu said.

The Bulls exerted immense pressure from the outset through their lineout drive,
creating two clear chances in the first five minutes.

The first was disallowed when they were held up over the tryline and the second
was ruled out due to obstruction in the lead up.

The home side were lucky to be level pegging at 3-3 before Lolagi Visinia sent
them ahead with a spectacular individual try.

The Blues fullback picked up a clearing kick from Handre Pollard near the half-way
line and raced past four defenders to score between the posts.

The Bulls hit back through Serfontein after Pollard found a gap and offloaded
to the centre as he stormed towards the line at full pace.

Yet the Pretoria-based side went into the break down 16-13, despite enjoying
72 percent of territory and 58 percent of possession in the first 40 minutes.

They were less wasteful after the re-start, breaking down the left wing at
lighting speed as the ball passed through six pairs of hands for Serfontein
to get his second try.

But they were forced into desperate defending as the Blues regrouped, eventually
conceding when George Moala powered over.

Down 23-18 in the final minutes, the Bulls worked the ball into a good attacking
position but threw away their momentum, and the game, through a needless penalty.

Next week the Blues host the Hurricanes at Eden Park and the Bulls move on
to Hamilton where they will face the Chiefs.

Final Score’Blues 23 (16) Bulls 18 (13)

Scorers

Blues’
Tries -‘L.Visinia, G.Moala
Pen – I.West 3
Con – I.West 2
Drop -‘
Cards –

Bulls’
Tries – J.Serfontein 2
Pen -‘H.Pollard 2
Con – H.Pollard’
Drop -‘
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1:Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2:Aki Aso
TMO‘: Glenn Newman

Teams

Blues

1. Tony Woodcock , 2. James Parsons , 3. Charlie Faumuina , 4. Josh Bekhuis , 5. Culum Retallick , 6. Akira Ioane , 7. Brendon O’Connor , 8. Steven Luatua (c) , 9. Jamison Gibson-Park , 10. Ihaia West , 11. Melani Nanai , 12. George Moala , 13. Francis Saili , 14. Ben Lam , 15. Lolagi Visinia

Replacements: , 16. Keven Mealamu , 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi , 18. Sam Prattley , 19. Will Lloyd , 20. Blake Gibson , 21. Jimmy Cowan/Jamie Booth , 22. Simon Hickey , 23. Matt Vaega

Bulls

Jesse Kriel, Francois Hougaard, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Handre Pollard, Rudy Paige, Pierre Spies ( c), Arno Botha, Lappies Labuschagne, Victor Matfield, Flip van de Merwe, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane.

Replacements: Callie Visagie , Dean Greyling, Werner Kruger, Jacques du Plessis, Deon Stegmann, Burger Odendaal, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Travis Ismaiel.

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