Auckland’s Blues kick off the weekend’s Super Rugby action at home following a successful two-match tour of Australia with a match against South Africa’s Cheetahs.
The Cheetahs came close to surprising the Highlanders last weekend but were unable to sustain their game for the whole 80 minutes and fell apart at the death.
The last six matches between these two sides ahs been won by the home team.
The Blues are considered New Zealand’s weakest franchise this season, but they sit sixth in the Australasian log standings.
Other than the Kiwi teams, only the Brumbies sit above them, however, they have eight points less than the Blues.
It’s been raining all day in Auckland and the conditions underfoot are greasy. It is not raining now, though.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
1.00: BEEP! BEEP! Brendon Pickerill blows his whistle to get the first match of round 12 underway. Piers Francis kicks short and the Cheetahs have possession.
3.00: The Blues go 13 phases before Francis breaks the line. The standoff combines with Rieko Ioane, who offloads to Patrick Tuipulotu. The lock can’t hold on and the Cheetahs win a penalty. The clear and have the lineout. A promising start by the hosts.
5.00: The Blues have a line-out on the Cheetahs’ 10. The South Africans have already missed five tackles in as many minutes played.
6.00: Clayton Blommetjies kicks deep and Melani Nanai picks up the ball near the sideline and kicks to touch. The visitors have the ball inside the Blues’ half.
8.00: TRY Francois Venter! The Cheetahs spread the ball to both sides of the paddock. An attack inside the 22 is finished by the skipper after a powerful leg drive. The Blues thought they had held him up, but the referee decides that the grounding is good.
9.00: MISS! Fred Zeilinga can’t add the touchline conversion, but the Cheetahs have an early lead.
11.00: TRY Rieko Ioane! The Blues hit back immediately. George Moala collects the pass from Augustine Pulu, passes to Melani Nanai, on the angle. The fullback straightens and bursts through the tackle and offloads to the Ioane, who runs clear for the score.
12.00: Francis adds the extras and the Blues lead.
14.00: TRY Torsten van Jaarsveld! The Cheetahs win a penalty, kick to touch, five metres out. They go to the lineout driving maul and the hooker crashes over. Typical South African rugby.
15.00: Fred Zeilinga makes no mistake from out wide. Cheetahs lead, again.
17.00: The Blues win a penalty for a high tackle. Francis kicks to the corner and the Blues will have a lineout, five metres out. What can they conjure?
18.00: TRY Scott Scrafton! Steven Luatua takes a crash ball in the first channel. The Blues recycle quickly, Pulu passes to the big man, on the run, he barges over Raymond Rhule and scores under the posts.
19.00: Francis puts the Blues back in front. It’s end-to-end in Auckland.
22.00: The Blues win a penalty, deep in their half, and kick to touch. They will have the ball in the Cheetahs’ 22.
24.00: TRY Akira Ioane! Both brothers are on the board. The Blues send the ball from left to right and through several pairs of hands. Ioane gathers and runs an angled run through Rhule and Henco Venter to score near the corner.
25.00: MISS! Francis cannot add the conversion. This is already looking ominous for the Cheetahs.
26.00: Frustrations have boiled over. The referee calls both captains and tells them to talk to their teams. The Cheetahs get the penalty and kick for the corner.
27.00: Another penalty against Scrafton. Blommetjies kicks to the corner for the second time. The South African’s set up a maul and lose the ball after an accidental offside. Scrafton with the good work in the maul.
30.00: Sergeal Petersen wins an aerial battle with Rieko Ioane. The winger breaks and kicks forward. The Blues recover and Francis clears to touch.
32.00: The Cheetahs lose the ball in good field position. Ofa Tu’ungafasi is the man who wins the penalty at the ruck. Great work from the big man.
33.00: Francis is down after taking a tackle from Henco Venter. It was high and the No 8 is being spoken to by the ref. It looked bad, but the first five-eight is back up. He clears to touch and the Blues have the ball at the lineout.
34.00: TRY Patrick Tuipulotu! It’s the Harlem Globetrotters from the Blues. The forwards with the basketball style offloads and spin moves from Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Tuipulotu and Scrafton on the left-hand touchline. The lock spins out of a tackle and charges over the whitewash.
35.00: MISS! Francis doesn’t look right as he misses from close range.
38.00: PENALTY Zeilinga! The flyhalf slots a penalty from in front and reduces the gap to nine points.
39.00: The Blues knock the ball on from their defensive lineout. The visitors will get the put into the scrum, just outside their hosts’ 22.
40.00: The siren sounds as the scrum goes to ground; time for one more play.
41.00: The Cheetahs win the penalty after Charlie Faumuina is pinged for collapsing. Zeilinga calls for the tee.
43.00: PENALTY Zeilinga! The flyhalf reduces the deficit to six points and at the break.
Half-time score was Blues 24 Cheetahs 18
41.00: BEEP! BEEP! Clayton Blommetjies starts the second half with a deep kick.
42.00: Ihaia West is on for Piers Francis, whose knee injury, sustained at the end of the first half, is being rested. The word from the sideline is that it is a precautionary substitution.
44.00: George Moala and James Parsons hold up a Cheetahs player and win the turnover.
45.00: Blues win a penalty; West kicks to the corner.
47.00: TRY Steven Luatua! Charlie Faumuina collects, makes a break and offloads to the flanker, who crashes over under the sticks. The Blues went several phases before crossing the line. Too easy.
48.00: West adds the extras from in front.
52.00: TRY Augustine Pulu! The scrumhalf gets the Blues sixth try of the evening. Luatua breaks and offloads out the back door. Patrick Tuipulotu knocks the ball backwards and Pulu gathers the loose ball and runs in untouched.
53.00: West kicks his second conversion. This game is over.
53.00: TRY Rieko Ioane! It all started with Melani Nanai’s quick thinking. The fullback is tackled, releases picks up the ball and charges up the field. Quick ball is recycled and the Blues send the ball through the hands. Akira Ioane breaks down the sideline and offloads to his younger brother, who runs in for his second score.
54.00: The conversion is good.
56.00: TRY Elandré Huggett! The Cheetahs score from the rolling maul.
57.00: Zeilinga kicks his second conversion of the evening to reduce the gap to 20 points.
61.00: The penalties are mounting and the game is breaking up as the subs stream onto the field.
64.00: The Cheetahs survive another Blues attack. Ox Nche, winning the penalty and the Free Staters clear.
68.00: TRY Melani Nanai! The fullback gets in on the act after the Blues go coast to coast to score. some wonderful hands by the Blues for their eighth try and the half century. It’s a rout.
69.00: MISS! West can’t add the conversion, but it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
71.00: There is a stop in play for foul play. It’s only a penalty for a head clash. Right call from the officials. Scrum to the Blues, but there was a mix-up between Oupa Mohoje and Rhule. A case of mistaken identity.
74.00: The clock is running down and the game is becoming scrappy. The Cheetahs are looking for another score, but the Blues D is still strong.
75.00: TIGHTHEAD! The Cheetahs push the Blues off their own ball and win a penalty. Driving maul, anyone?
76.00: TRY Elandré Huggett! The hooker gets his second. The hooker took the throw, Uzair Cassiem gathered, set up the maul and Huggett crashed over.
77.00: Zeilinga gets two more points to his tally.
80.00: No try! Declan O’Donnell almost gets in on the act. However, Huggett saves the day with some great defence.
81.00: West kicks to touch after the hooter and that’s the ball game.
Final score is Blues 50 (24) Cheetahs 32 (18)
Tries – R. Ioane (2), Scrafton, A. Ioane, Tuipolotu, Luatua, Pulu, Nanai
Con – Francis (2), West (3)
Tries – F. Venter, Van Jaarsveld, Huggett (2)
Pen – Zeilinga (2)
Con – Zeilinga (3)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 2: Angus Mabey
TMO: Aaron Paterson
15 Melani Nanai, 14 Declan O’Donnell, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Michael Collins.
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Niell Jordaan, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Armandt Koster, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Clinton Swart