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Blues break into Super 14 play off places

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The Blues broke into the play off zone and took fourth spot knocking the Stormers down to fifth place after beating the Highlanders by 15 points to 40.

 

The Highlanders staged a comeback in the second half which had the home fans hoping for a victory but Anthony Tuitavake brought the Blues back into the game before David Smith scored a breakaway try which put the result beyond doubt.  

 

Crucially the Blues scored five tries in total which earned them a bonus point. Had they not scored the bonus point they would have been in fifth place.

 

The Stormers however, who the Blues overtook,  still have to play this weekend.

 


Fullback Nick Evans scored two tries in his 23 point haul.


The All Blacks flyhalf signed this week by London club Harlequins, scored the Blues’ first 21 points in a 62-minute cameo which marked his first return appearance on his former home ground, Carisbrook.


The versatile back, who kicked three penalties and two conversions to complement his two first-half tries, played for the Highlanders before rejoining the Blues this year after a three-year absence.


Evans’ prolific performance helped the Blues to a 26-3 halftime lead, securing the win they needed to keep their playoffs hopes alive and wingers Rudi Wulf and Anthony Tuitivake added tries which sealed a vital four-try bonus point.


The five points lifted the Blues from eighth to fourth place on the Super 14 ladder pending the outcome of other matches in the 13th of 14 regular-season rounds.


The Blues face the Hurricanes in next week’s final round which may decide which of those teams qualifies for the semifinals.


The Blues needed a bold effort Saturday to press their semifinal claims and they produced that in the first half, running the ball at an unsteady Highlanders defense.


They edged ahead 9-0 with three Evans penalties but had to wait until the 25th minute for the fullback’s first try as he outpaced the defense pursuing his own kick.


He touched down again in the 32nd by taking advantage of space created by props Tony Woodcock and John Afoa.


Wulf added the Blues’ third try three minutes before halftime but they had to wait until the 22nd minute of the second half before Tuitivake scored the fourth to clinch the bonus point. Evans converted the try and was immediately substituted.


“We talked about it all week. We came down here to do a job, we did it and we’re still in (the competition),” Evans said.


“Our job tonight was (to get) five points. We knew to give ourselves a shot at the title we needed a bit of momentum. We needed five points and got it.”


The Highlanders hit back with second-half tries to Aaron Bancroft and Adam Thompson, closing to 26-15 before the Blues pulled away, with Tuitivake’s try and another to speedster David Smith.


“It’s got to the crunch time in the competition and that win was vital for us,” Blues captain Troy Flavell said.


 

Final Score Highlanders 15 Blues 40

 

Scorers

 

Highlanders

Tries –  Aaron Bancroft,Adam Thomson
Pen – Mike Delany
Con – Mike Delany
Cards – Chris King 73 (yellow)

 

Blues

Tries – Nick Evans (2) Rudi Wulf,Anthony Tuitavake, David Smith
Pen – Nick Evans (3)
Con -Nick Evans (2), Ben Atiga

 

Saturday May 10
Carisbrook, Dunedin
Highlanders vs Blues in Dunedin
Referee:
Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee: Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand), Keith Brown (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel (New Zealand) 

 

Teams

 

Highlanders

 


15. Paul Williams,14. Glen Horton ,13. Aaron Bancroft,12. Johnny Leota,11. Fetu’u Vainikolo,10. Mike Delany,9. Jimmy Cowan ,8. Craig Newby ( c ),7. Alando Soakai,6. Adam Thomson,5. Tom Donnelly,4. Hoani MacDonald,3. Clint Newland,2. Jason MacDonald,1. Jamie Mackintosh,


Reserves:16. David Hall,17. Chris King,18. Isaac Ross,19. Steven Setephano,20. Toby Morland,21. Daniel Bowden,22. Niva Ta’auso.

 

Blues 

 

Nick Evans, David Smith, Anthony Tuitavake, Benson Stanley, Rudi Wulf, Isa Nacewa, Taniela Moa, Nick Williams, Daniel Braid, Jerome Kaino, Troy Flavell (captain)/Kurtis Haiu, Anthony Boric, John Afoa, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock/Nick White.
Reserves: White/Tom McCartney, Bronson Murray, Haiu/Bryn Evans, Justin Collins, Danny Lee, Isaia Toeava, Ben Atiga.

 

Super14.com

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