Super Rugby on Saturday kicks off with the Blues hosting the Western Force from Perth Western Australia. The Blues have played the Force 10 since 2006 and they have won 8 matches and drawn one.
The Blues have won the last four matches between the sides while the Force have never won at Eden Park.
The teams are out on the field.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
BEEP! Piers Francis kicks off, the Force are in their change strip of yellow and playing with the sun at their back on a warm afternoon in Auckland.
1.00: Blues playing for territory and have a lineout on the visitors’ 22.
2.00: The hosts lose the ball and the Force break out and drive deep into the Blues’ half. The Blues lost the ball with Jimmy Tupou and Tetera Faulkner made the charge up field.
4.00: Scrum to the force and it’s already reset. Referee playing advantage as the Force attack.
5.00: PENALTY! Jono Lance kicks to touch after Charlie Faumuina is pinged for a scrum infringement. The Force attack with the lineout.
7.00: The Force go through several phases but the Blues hold out, defending eight phases. Francis makes the tackle and the scramble D wins the day. Marcel Brache, taking the ball flat, knocks on.
8.00: Another reset scrum. The Force’s match last weekend involved over 40 reset scrums. Wow.
9.00: Ryan Louwrens is down on the touchline and the Blues go through some phases but Patrick Tuipulotu loses the ball. Scrum tot the Force. Michael Ruru is on at halfback.
11.00: PENALTY! Lance will take the points this time from right in front.
12.00: PENALTY! Lance gives the Force the lead.
13.00: The Blues give away another penalty, that’s three already. TheForce kick to touch.
15.00: It’s all Western Force at the moment, again, going through multiple phases. The Perth-based men are probing and inside the Blues’ 22.
It’s up to 19 phases. Billy Meakes breaks the line but is tackled and Francis wins the ball but Melani Nanai’s loose pass sees the Blues cough it up. Scrum Blues, inside the 22.
18.00: Charlie Faumuina wins the penalty. Francis clears the pressure.
19.00: Francis throws an intercept and the Force attacking deep inside the 22. Penalty advantage to the visitors.
20.00: TRY Richie Arnold! The big second-rower powers over from close range after the turnover from a Blues lineout. Tetera Faulkner took it up first before Arnold barged over and through Jerome Kaino’s tackle.
21.00: Lance can’t add the conversion.
23.00: Francis takes it to the line but, again, the home team lose the ball in contact, TJ Faiane knocking forward and the Force counter-attack. however, they lose it too, scrum on halfway to the Blues and it’s reset.
24.00: Tana Umaga won’t be happy with his team’s performance in the opening quarter. conversely, Dave Wessels will be happy.
25.00: The ref blows for a penalty to Blues for not releasing. Francis’ kick is not great but the Blues have a lineout. Jimmy Tupou is going off and Akira Ioane comes on. Ioane goes to No 8 and Kaino moves to blindside flank.
26.00: The Blues have a scrum. Tupou is gone for HIA. Penalty for offside against Isi Naisarani, who looks baffled nut, you can’t come through the ruck and kick the ball out the halfback’s hands. Lineout, about 18 metres from the Perth try line.
27.00: YELLOW! Ioane takes it quickly but some cynical play, again from Naisarani, and he’s sent to the bin. Scrum Blues in great field position.
30.00: TRY! Matt Duffie but wait, no TRY! George Moala sees the space and floats a forward pass to the winger and the score is ruled out. The Blues botched that good and proper.
32.00: FREE-kick! An early engagement by Pauliasi Manu and Dane Haylett-Petty clears right up to halfway from on his own goal line.
33.00: Meakes is penalised for going off his feet at the ruck. Francis has kicked deep and the Blues will have the lineout inside the 22.
34.00: Francis puts in a little chip kick but the ball is fielded by a man in yellow. The referee was playing advantage and they will go for another lineout.
35.00: TRY Akira Ioane! A scuffle breaks out as Shuhei Kubo goes to the TMO to check for a grounding. Wait, assistant referee Ben O’Keeffe says the grounding is good. Ioane is awarded the score. The Blues won the lineout, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti takes the ball and the maul is set-up, and they powered over.
36.00: Francis adds the conversion from near the touch-line, great kick.
38.00: TRY Matt Duffie! Moala got on the outside of prop Tetera Faulkner – a miss match – and breaks into the 22, beats Matt Hodgson’s chase, draws Dane Haylett-Petty to send Duffie over in the corner.
Just like that, an eight point lead is now a four-point deficit as Francis can’t add the extras.
40.00: The halftime siren sounds and the players head to the shed for a quick rest.
Umaga will be a lot happier now. Naisarani’s yellow card saw the start of 12-point swing at the end of the first stanza. Wessels will be very disappointed with his team.
Time in the opposition was only 22 seconds for the Blues at one stage, it’s now two minutes and 22 seconds to the visitors’ four minutes 30.
The halftime score was Blues 12 Force 8
The teams are back out and the Force will be playing into the sun. There are no changes to the teams.
BEEP! We are back underway.
42.00: Dane Haylett-Petty wins the restart but the Blues turn it over, race down the field and Alex Newsome almost gives away a soft try. the wing tries to keep the ball from going out and proceeds to knock it back inside the field of play. Matt Duffie over runs his chase which saved Newsome’s blushes.
43.00: Another penalty against Billy Meakes.
44.00: Scrum Blues.
46.00: TRY TJ Faiane? Wait, we are going to the TMO to check for a knock on. Yes, the centre knocks the ball forward when tackling Jono Lance and it is over turned.
48.00: Arnold intercepts and Marcel Brache breaks down the field. The Blues’ scramble defence saves the day. The Blues almost counter-attack after Isi Naisarani loses the ball forward.
49.00: Rieko Ioane comes on at outside centre for Tinoai Faiane and moves to outside centre. Moala moves inside and Ihaia West replaces Francis at first-five-eight.
50.00: Arnold is off for Richard Hardwick. Sione Mafileo is on for Charlie Faumuina in the Blues’ front row. the blues attack inside the visitors’ half.
52.00: another penalty and West kicks deep inside the Force’s 22.
53.00: The Blues lose the ball but come back. Eventually, the hosts pass the ball into touch after a promising move out wide.
54.00: Ben Daley is off for Pekahou Cowan in the front row for the Force. Patrick Tuipulotu goes off for Scott Scrafton.
57.00: Haylett-Petty slices a clearance with his left foot and the ball is recovered by Duffie, who looks to be taken out in the air, but the ref decides it is a fair challenge. the crowd don’t like it. The Blues do have the ball and are attacking wide.
58.00: Sam Prattley is on for Pauliasi Manu and James Parsons is on for Matt Moulds. The force counter-attack but they can’t capitalise on the home team’s mistakes. The blues will have a lineout inside their 22.
59.00: Anaru Rangi comes on for Tatafu Polota-Nau and Ian Prior comes on for Billy Meakes, who has been outstanding today. Rangi’s first throw into the lineout was picked off and he has a chance to make amends.
64.00: TRY Rieko Ioane! It started deep inside the Blues’ 22. West took Augustine Pulu’s long pass and sent Ioane away, the replacement popped to Michael Collins who breaks and gives the ball back to Ioane to run in untouched.
65.00: West makes no mistake with the extra two points and the Blues look safe with an 11-point lead.
66.00: Pulu is off for Billy Guyton for the hosts and Tetera Faulkner is off for the visitors for Sham Vui on debut.
69.00: Ioane is penalised for not releasing. The force opts for touch and a lineout maul.
72.00: TRY MICHAEL COLLINS! West makes a break and sends Collins away after drawing Alex Newsome.
73.00: West can’t add the wide conversion; boy, has he been good since he came on? It’s another strong finish by the hosts.
77.00: TRY Dane Haylett-Petty! Matt Philip found space deep inside his 22, beat Guyton, and sent the fullback over to score to deny the Blues a bonus-point.
78.00: Prior adds the two points.
79.00: The Blues with a final attack, can they score?
80.00: The hooter blows and that’s the ball game.
The final score after 80 minutes is Blues 24 (12) Western Force 15 (8)
Tries – A. Ioane, Duffie, R. Ioane, Collins
Con – Francis, West
Tries – Arnold, Haylett-Petty
Pen – Lance
Con – Prior
Cards – Yellow (Naisarani, 28th minute)
Referee: Shuhei Kubo
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: James Doleman
TMO: Glenn Newman
15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi or Sam Prattley, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Rieko Ioane.
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Chance Peni, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Richard Hardwick, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Robbie Coleman