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Blues down Kings and end long wait for away win

Elgar Watts will not be available to play the Jaguares

The Blues ended a four year wait for an away victory in South Africa by beating the Southern Kings 18-34 in Port Elizabeth.

Auckland’s Blues had lost their last seven matches in South Africa as their last win in the Republic was in March 2012 when they beat the Bulls 29-23.

Against all teams the Blues had lost their 12 matches away from home and they lost all of their away matches in 2015.

The Blues outscored the Southern Kings by five tries to two so they also earn a bonus point.

The Blues have now played 9 matches and won 5 while the Southern Kings have 1 win over the Sunwolves from nine matches.

The struggling Southern Kings made the Blues work for their victory and it wasn’t until the fourth minute of extra time that the Blues scored the bonus point try.

The final try came after a terrific rally which ended leftwing Tevita Li touching down for the visiting Blues. .

The conversion by substitute Matt McGahan failed but it was a fitting end to a hard-fought contest.

Despite the 16-point losing margin, the Kings produced a vastly improved performance.

The Kings had their moments in the first half and at one point enjoyed a 10-5 lead but as the match wound its course, the class of the visiting Kiwis prevailed and by the time the teams changed ends at halftime, there was little doubt as to who the eventual winner would be.

The Kings were game competitors throughout but once the Tana Umaga-coached Blues got into their stride, their attacking ploys proved too much to contain.

Blues captain and hooker James Parsons, scored his side’s first try before right wing Melani Nanai crossed twice in quick succession as the match reached the half-hour mark.

Flyhalf Ihaia West goaled both Nanai’s tries to wrap up the Blues’ first-half 19-point haul.

Kings halfback James Hall scored an opportunist 13th-minute try when he pressed the ball against the base of the upright and a conversion and a penalty by flyhalf Elgar Watts, gave the home side their first-half 10 points.

The Kings returned from the halftime break with a fresh sense urgency and went on to enjoy a decided territorial advantage which they exploited to good effect.

After a 43rd minute setback when West gave the Auckland-based side a three-point advance via a penalty, the Kings imposed themselves on the match and scored eight points which left them trailing 22-18. Hooker Edgar Marutlulle scored an unconverted try in the 53rd minute and fullback Jurgen Visser landed a long-range penalty six minutes later.

This must have raised hopes in the Kings’ ranks that they could be on the cusp of an upset win but they were unable to sustain the pressure later on in the match when they allowed the substitute Billy Guyton in for a soft try.

West’s conversion took the scoreline out to 18-29 with 10 minutes of playing time left.

It took the Blues all of five minutes after the siren had sounded to bag a bonus-point try (unconverted) through winger Li.

Next week the Kings travel to Bloemfontein where they will play the Cheetahs and the Blues fly to Johannesburg to take on the Lions.

Final Score Kings 18 (10) Blues 34 (19)

Scorers

Kings
Tries – J.Hall, E.Marutlulle
Pen – E.Watts, J.Visser
Con – E.Watts
Drop –
Cards –

Blues
Tries – J.Parsons, M.Nanai 2, B.Guyton, T.Li
Pen – I.West
Con – I.West 3
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Ref 1:Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 2:Archie Sehlako
TMO :Christie du Preez

Teams

Kings

15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Luzuko Vulindlu, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 James Hall, 8 Cyril-John Velleman, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 John-Charles Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sithembiso Sithole

Replacements: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Ntando Kebe, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Leighton Ekstee

Blues

Sam Prattley, James Parsons (c), Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh Bekhuis, Jerome Kaino, Tanerau Latimer, Steven Luatua; Bryn Hall, Ihaia West, Tevita Li, Piers Francis, George Moala, Melani Nanai, Lolagi Visinia.

Replacements : Matt Moulds, Nic Mayhew, Charlie Faumuina, Hoani Matenga, Kara Pryor, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, Male Sa’u.