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Blues and Bulls play out dramatic draw

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The Blues and Bulls drew 22-22 in a dramatic and entertaining Super Rugby clash at a cold and wet Eden Park, Auckland.

Harry Plummer missed an 81st-minute penalty for the Blues which gave the Bulls a share of the spoils in the City of Sails.

Otere Black missed a drop-kick attempt in the previous play, leading to the Blues taking a shot at goal instead of a five-metre lineout at the death.

The draw ended the Bulls‘ run of four defeats in six Super Rugby matches against the Blues, who have had a dismal season, losing five of their previous six games.

Both sides shared a try apiece in a tight but entertaining first half despite the slippery conditions.

Manie Libbok opened the scoring with an early penalty.

Ofa Tu’ungafasi’s score cancelled out Hanro Liebenberg’s 19th-minute try.

Plummer’s conversion put the Blues ahead at half-time.

Teams continue to trade blows after the break

Warrick Gelant’s mistake, dropping an up-and-under after the restart led to a penalty and Scott Scrafton’s 46th-minute try.

James Parsons charged his way towards the try-line after a lineout move on the Bulls’ 22, involving scrumhalf Jonathan Ruru, but was tackled short.

Ruru played Parsons, alone in the tram-tracks, who then sped clear in the open space.

The hooker was only brought to the ground because he fell over Gelant’s clumsy tackle.

Scrafton’s first pick-and-go was repelled, although, he did finish after picking himself off the ground and dotting down on the chalk, a phase later.

Bulls flair sees Blues chasing shadows

But Cornal Hendricks scored his second try of the season when he dotted down in the corner after latching onto his own grubber-kick.

RG Snyman, who was everywhere, won the turnover at the ruck because the Blues support players were dawdling.

Schalk Brits quickly sent the ball away from the defenders to set the counter-attack in motion.

Marco van Staden was put in a hole by Lizo Gqoboka and charged through Ma’a Nonu and Patrick Tuipulotu’s weak tackles.

Super Rugby Video Highlights, Round 16: Blues versus Bulls, Eden Park, Auckland

Quick ball from the ruck was sent to Hendricks on the touchline.

He ran at Tom Robinson before deciding to kick in behind the flank into space vacated by Rieko Iaone.

Hendricks had to much pace for Ioane, beating him to the bouncing ball to score.

Libbok levelled from the sideline on 54 minutes.

Akira Ioane scored from the base of a five-metre scrum to put the Blues back in front with 14 minutes remaining.

The number eight picked up and darted blind, slipping Ivan van Zyl’s tackle to score.

Van Zyl had no chance against Ioane.

Plummer converted from wide.

The Bulls finally put an excellent lineout maul together, marching their opponents back.

Van Staden carried, the ball was recycled to Libbok, who came from the right to the left-hand side.

Libbok darted through Thomas Faiane and Rieko Iaone and converted, with less than four minutes to play, to tie the scores.

It was a fantastic sweeping attack from the set-piece.

Black and Plummer’s missed kicks ended the game in dramatic circumstances as the Bulls held on for the draw.

It was an entertaining and open first 40 minutes in trying weather conditions

The Bulls were without Duane Vermeulen and Handré Pollard, both captains and leaders of the franchise through injury.

Burger Odendaal marshalled his troops from midfield.

Liebenberg, the evergreen Brits and Van Staden, who was immense at the breakdown, carried like a pit bull.

Libbok put his side on the board after the Bulls’ pack won a scrum-penalty.

Faiane’s knock on trying to take a quick-tap 22 drop-out led to a series of reset scrums and the three points.

The Blues had a couple of early attacks, but poor handling in the slippery conditions killed the attacks.

A poor Libbok clearance led to Plummer levelling after Paul Schoeman fell foul of the referee.

The game burst into life with a try apiece as the Blues edged into a two-point lead

A patient build-up ended when Liebenberg crashed over from close-range after several phases.

Snyman’s offload put the flanker away for the score.

The attack started when Ruru’s kick went out on the full, giving the tourists an attacking lineout.

Rosco Specman and Gelant both went close but was tackled short.

Jason Jenkins and Trevor Nyakane carried as the Bulls battered the Blues before Liebenberg burst over from Snyman’s offload.

Libbok missed the conversion attempt, but Pote Human’s men had another slim lead.

Ruru crashed over after a 12-phase attack that started when Libbok’s poor clearance kick-started a counter-attack.

Van Staden’s hand held-up the ball on the line, and there was no conclusive evidence for TMO Ben Skeen to overturn Mike Fraser’s call of “no try.”

It did not matter because Tu’ungafasi crashed over from close-range, a few minutes later, after Akira Ioane’s quick-tap free-kick set the attack in motion.

Plummer’s conversion put Leon MacDonald’s side ahead for the first time in the match on 26 minutes.

The Bulls’ pack started to dominate as the half wore on.

They had the edge in the scrums, winning a tighthead before halftime after a second-shove caught the Kiwis forwards off-guard.

The South Africans could not get their lineout drive going, though, which allowed the Blues to survive a couple of decent attacking opportunities.

Both teams’ handling was excellent despite the wet and slippery conditions, but no more points were added as they headed into the shed at 10-8.

Second half seesaw continues

It was tit-for-tat after the interval as the two teams traded four tries.

Scrafton and Ioane’s scores were cancelled out by Hendricks and Libboks’ five-pointers.

The action-packed contest ended crazily.

Libbok’s late goal earned his side the share of the spoils, in the end.

Black’s missed drop-goal, and Plummer’s pushed penalty before the hooter helped, too.

Final Score: Blues 22 (10) Bulls 22 (8)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – Tu’ungafasi, Scrafton. A. Ioane
Pen – Plummer
Con – Plummer (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Bulls
Tries – Liebenberg, Hendricks, Libbok
Pen – Libbok
Con – Libbok (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2: Dan Waenga
TMO: Ben Skeen

Teams

Blues

15 Melani Nanai, 14 Caleb Clarke, 13 Thomas Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson (co-captain), 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (co-captain), 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Lua Li, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Otere Black, 23 Tanielu Tele’a.

Bulls

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 John-Ben Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Andre Warner, 22 John Jackson, 23 Divan Rossouw.

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