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Blues beat Highlanders and top NZ Conference

Bryn Hall of the Blues makes a break which led to Ma'a Nonu's try

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Article Published: Saturday 29 March 2014|

The Blues followed up their success over the Cheetahs in Round 6 with a 30-12 victory over the Highlanders at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

The Blues victory takes the two teams to one victory each in 2014 as the Highlanders beat the Blues 29-21 during Round 2 in Dunedin last month.

The result provisionally moves the Blues them to the top of the New Zealand Conference and from ninth place overall to third.

The Chiefs play the Bulls later in the round and a victory in Pretoria would see the Blues slip back to second in the New Zealand Conference.

The Blues scored the opening try of the match by George Moala in the tenth minute but went quiet and allowed the Highlanders to take the lead through three Lima Sopoaga penalties.

A moment later the Blues added a penalty which put them back in the lead. Four minutes before half time Blues half back Bryn Hall who came in for Piri Weepu sliced through the Highlanders defence but was stopped short of the line.

The Blues quickly recycled the ball and Steven Luatua drove All Black Ma'a Nonu over the line for the second try to the Aucklanders and with the conversion the Blues went in for the break leading the scoreboard.

The Blues were buoyed by the injection of All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Jerome Kaino who made their first starts of the season and had a big impact on settling a Blues side that has played an inconsistent brand of rugby so far this season.

The Highlanders had opportunities and briefly led 7-9 in the first half but in the end suffered from repeated mistakes, putting themselves under pressure against a Kaino-led Blues side intent on exploiting any turnover.

The Blues scored three tries while the Highlanders were forced to live off four penalties by Lima Sopoaga.

It was a marked improvement in defence for the Blues who went into the match with one of the worst records in the competition, leaking on average 32 points a game.

But they had only themselves to blame for an inability to pick up a four-try bonus point as the match degenerated into a messy display in a scoreless final 20 minutes.

The Highlanders best try-scoring movement came in the opening minutes with a break down the right flank that ended five metres from the line when Ben Smith's final pass hit winger Richard Buckman in the face.

It typified the errors that filled the Highlanders game, while the Blues immediately bounced back with a fortuitous try to George Moala at the other end of the field.

Scrum-half Bryn Hall, promoted to the starting line up following news during the week that 71-Test veteran Piri Weepu had suffered a stroke, had a kick charged down but the ball ricocheted into the arms of Moala who raced 30-metres to score.

The playmaking, however, was primarily with the Highlanders in the first quarter and while they could not cross the Blues line they benefited from three Sopoaga penalties to hit the front 7-9.

But they led for only two minutes before prodigious Blues kicker Simon Hickey landed his first penalty and converted the Blues second try to Nonu for the home side to turn with a 17-9 lead at half-time.

In a flurry of scoring in the opening 17 minutes of the second half, Hickey and Sopoaga traded penalties and Charles Piutau scored the Blues third try when the Highlanders failed to find touch with a clearing kick from their own line.

Hickey, who finished the match with 15 points, landed the conversion and a third penalty to put the result beyond doubt.

Final Score Blues 30 (17) Highlanders 12 (9)


Tries - G.Moala, M.Nonu, C.Piutau
Pen - S.Hickey 3
Con - S.Hickey 3
Drop -
Cards -

Tries -
Pen - L.Sopoaga 4
Con -
Drop -
Cards -

Match Officials
: Steve Walsh
Assistant Ref 1: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2: Shane McDermott
TMO: Ben Skeen



15. Charles Piutau,14. Frank Halai,13. Jackson Willison,12. Ma'a Nonu,11. George Moala,10. Simon Hickey,9. Bryn Hall,8. Steven Luatua,7. Luke Braid,6. Jerome Kaino,5. Hayden Triggs,4. Liaki Moli,3. Charlie Faumuina,2. Tom McCartney,1. Tony Woodcock

Replacements :16. James Parsons,17. Ofa Tu'ungafasi,18. Angus Ta'avao,19. Tom Donnelly,20. Peter Saili,21. Sonatane Takulua,22. Pita Ahki,23. Benji Marshall


1 . Kane Hames , 2 . Ged Robinson , 3 . Chris King , 4 . Brad Thorn , 5 . Jarrad Hoeata , 6 . Elliot Dixon , 7 . Shane Christie , 8 . Nasi Manu (co.captain) , 9 . Aaron Smith , 10 . Lima Sopoaga , 11 . Patrick Osborne , 12 . Phil Burleigh , 13 . Malakai Fekitoa , 14 . Richard Buckman , 15 . Ben Smith (co.captain)

Replacements : 16 . Liam Coltman , 17 . Craig Millar , 18 . Ma'afu Fia , 19 . Joe Wheeler , 20 . TJ Ioane , 21 . Fumiaki Tanaka , 22 . Hayden Parker , 23 . Shaun Treeby

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