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Blues made to work for Cheetahs victory

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Article Published: Saturday 2 April 2011|

The Blues were made to work for a 29-22 bonus point victory over the Cheetahs at Toll Stadium in Whangarei on Saturday.

The Cheetahs scored their first points of the match just before half time but the Cheetahs were much closer than the scoreboard refelected.

The Blues had scored two tries by half time and led 14-3 but while they had been made to work for every point they had often been their own worst enemy and could have led by more.

As the visiting Cheetahs entered the final quarter of the match they scored their first try of the match which was the start of their best period as they followed the first try with another.

The Blues however had enough of a lead to be able to weather the Cheetahs comeback and then with 5 minutes left on the clock Isiah Toeava scored the Blues bonus point try.

Coenie Oosthuisen scored a try with a minute left on the clock which with the conversion earned the Cheetahs a losing bonus point.

The result gave the Blues a third consecutive victory and they now have five wins from seven outings to be second in the New Zealand conference behind the Crusaders who have the bye this weekend.

The bonus point win was also sweet revenge for the Blues whose shock 32-36 loss to the Cheetahs last year cost them a chance to make the semi-finals.

This time they were not to be denied, running in four tries to three against the struggling Cheetahs who languish at the bottom of the table with one win from seven outings.

But despite holding a 24-3 lead midway through the second half the Blues were made to fight to hold on for the win as the Cheetahs mounted a strong comeback with three late tries to be within a sniff of a draw at the finish.

"I don't think we had the edge we would have liked. We can walk away with our five points but we still have a lot to work on," admitted captain Keven Mealamu.

Despite dominating possession, the Blues were kept scoreless through the first quarter by the close-marking defence of the South Africans and their two first-half tries were both long-range affairs.

Joe Rokocoko opened the scoring when a raking touchfinder by Riaan Viljoen had drilled the Blues back to their own 22.

From the lineout, Jared Payne and Stephen Brett opened up the Cheetahs defence and the move ended with the left-wing scoring in the corner and Luke McAlister added the extra two points.

Keven Mealamu set up the second try when he snapped up turnover ball and sent Brett and McAlister away on a 50-metre run to the line which resulted in Brett scoring the try and McAlister kicking the conversion.

The Cheetahs, who were denied a try when Wilmaure Louw dotted down after a 70 metre move only to be called back for an earlier infringement --committed by Louw -- earned their first points on halftime with a penalty by Sias Ebersohn.

A McAlister penalty and his conversion of a try by hard-working backrower Peter Saili pushed the Blues to a 21-point lead before the Cheetahs clicked into gear.

Livewire halfback Sarel Pretorius scored back-to-back tries with one conversion by Naas Olivier before Isaia Toeava scored the Blues bonus point try to have the homeside ahead 29-15 with six minutes remaining.

With the clock counting down, the Cheetahs fought their way up to the Blues line where prop Coenie Oosthuizen barged over and Olivier's conversion gave the Cheetahs a bonus point for finishing within seven of the Blues.

However, with a draw in sight, the Cheetahs were unable to score again in the final minute.

Final Score Blues 29 Cheetahs 22


Tries - J Rokocoko, S Brett, P Saili, I Toeava
Pen - L McAlister
Con - L McAlister 3
Drop -
Cards -

Tries - S Pretorius 2,C.Oosthuisen
Pen - S Ebersohn
Con - N Olivier 2
Drop -
Cards -

Match Officials
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jonathon White (New Zealand), Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)


Blues :1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Keven Mealamu (C), 3. John Afoa, 4. Kurtis Haiu, 5. Anthony Boric , 6. Chris Lowrey , 7. Luke Braid, 8. Peter Saili, 9. Alby Mathewson, 10. Stephen Brett, 11. Joe Rokocoko, 12. Luke McAlister, 13. Jared Payne, 14. Rene Ranger 15. Isaia Toeava

Reserves : 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 James King, 19 Mat Luamanu, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 Benson Stanley

Cheetahs: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Phillip Burger, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Corne Uys, 11 Wilmaure Louw, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Phillip van der Walt, 6 Kabamba Floors, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp (c), 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Coenie Oosthuisen.

Replacements: 16 Skipper Badenhorst, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Isak van der Westhuizen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Naas Olivier, Barry Geel.

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