Hamilton’s Chiefs have extended their unbeaten Super Rugby run against the Blues to 13 matches with a 21-27 victory over the Auckland side at Eden Park.
The Blues led for more than half of the match but had to settle for a losing bonus point as they search for a way to end a losing streak that began in June 2011.
The Chiefs lost Brodie Retallick and Shaun Stevenson before the match and the early injuries look to have unsettled them as the Blues were the first to score when Augustine Pulu powered over in the 7th minute.
The Chiefs responded almost immediately with a try by Taleni Seu which Damien McKenzie failed to convert.
The Blues extended their lead with a try by Akira Ioane which was converted by Bryn Gatland.
Sean Wainui added the Chiefs second try but again McKenzie could not convert so the Blues went in for half time leading 14-10.
The Chiefs effectively won the match early in the second half with a burst of two tries.
The first of these two tries came from a rolling maul which allowed Sam Cane to get the ball down behind the tryline to put the Chiefs into the lead for the first time.
With the conversion from McKenzie the Chiefs went into a three point lead.
From the restart the Blues lost the ball and halfback Brad Weber collected the ball and scampered away to score.
Another penalty from McKenzie a short while later meant that the Chiefs had scored 17 unanswered points in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
The Blues hit back with a try from first-five Bryn Gatland and he went on to convert his try to ensure that there was a tight contest heading in the final quarter.
With the Blues needing points they upped their attack but the Chiefs defence stood up to the challenge.
The Blues scrum started failing and yielding penalties which helped the Chiefs tiring defence.
The Blues had a chance after a late penalty for an early tackle with a line out 20 metres out but their maul collapsed and the Chiefs crucially turned the ball over.
The Chiefs thought they had the match won after they had won a scrum but they Blues were up quickly and managed to stop the ball from being kicked out and turned the ball over.
The Blues won a penalty in extra time and opted for a line out but the put in was not straight much the Chiefs’ relief as that prompted the final whistle.
Next week the Blues travel to South Africa where they will take on last year’s Super Rugby losing finalists the Lions. The Chiefs have a bye.
Final Score Blues 21(14) Chiefs 27(10)
Tries – A.Pulu, A.Ioane, B.Gatland
Con – B. Gatland 3
Tries – T.Seu, S.Wainui, S.Cane, B.Weber
Pen – D.McKenzie
Con – D.McKenzie 2
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1:Brendan Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2:Angus Mabey
TMO : Ben Skeen
1. Pauliasi Manu, 2. James Parsons, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu, 5. Scott Scrafton, 6. Jimmy Tupou, 7. Murphy Taramai, 8. Akira Ioane; 9. Augustine Pulu ©, 10. Bryn Gatland, 11. Rieko Ioane, 12. TJ Faiane, 13. George Moala, 14. Matt Duffie,15. Melani Nanai.
Replacements: 16. Leni Apisai, 17. Alex Hodgman, 18. Michael Tamoaieta, 19. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Jerome Kaino, 21. Sam Nock, 22. Daniel Kirkpatrick,23. Michael Collins.
1. Aidan Ross, 2. Nathan Harris, 3. Nepo Laulala , 4. Mitchell Brown, 5. Michael Allardice , 6. Liam Messam , 7. Sam Cane, 8. Taleni Seu, 9. Brad Weber,10.Tiaan Falcon , 11. Solomon Alaimalo , 12. Johnny Faauli, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown , 14. Sean Wainui , 15. Damian McKenzie
Replacements :16. Liam Polwart, 17. Karl Tu’inukuafe , 18. Angus Ta’avao, 19. Luke Jacobson, 20. Lachlan Boshier, 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22. Tiaan Falcon, 23. Bailyn Sullivan/Declan O’Donnell