Blues

Blues seal win with last minute kick

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The Blues snatched a win to break their two match losing streak in the last minute of play in a match against the Stormers. Ben Atiga who had not enjoyed a great night with the boot kicked the late penalty to win the match 17-14.


The Blues struggled through the match after losing play maker Nick Evans shortly before the match.


Ben Atiga was the stand in kicker with Isaia Toeava playing at number 10. Peter Grant leveled the scores with eight minutes left on the clock and the match seemed destined to be a draw.


Both teams scored a try a piece and the Blues led the Stormers 14-6 at the break.


Atiga, thrust into the kicking role when a shoulder injury ruled regular kicker, All Blacks flyhalf Nick Evans, out of the match, missed two attempts in the previous 13 minutes but made good contact with the last kick of the match and sent it curving between the posts.


The goal was Atiga’s fourth success from seven attempts.

The former All Blacks center missed the conversion of an early try by scrumhalf Danny Lee then slotted penalties in the 23rd, 27th and 30th minutes to give the Blues a 14-6 halftime advantage. The Stormers early points came from penalties by flyhalf Peter Grant.


Fullback Conrad Jantjes scored a try for the Stormers midway through the second half, bringing them within three points of Auckland, then Grant slotted his third penalty to tie the score 14-14 after 71 minutes.


Atiga missed a 74th-minute penalty which could have clinched the match for Auckland, then slotted his final goal from a greater distance and more difficult angle to lift the Blues across the line.


“I tried to do the same thing I did with the previous kicks,” Atiga said of the winning goal.


“I knew I had to keep my head down, even more than I had done before. With the last kick I thought I’m not even going to look at it.


I was looking at ground even after I kicked it and I just followed through and hoped for the best.


“It was all worth it in the end. We’ve been pretty down last couple of weeks. We had a shocker last week and had to redeem ourselves.”


The Blues started the season as favorites to win this year’s championship but have gradually faded after losses to South Africa’s Sharks and the Western Force.


The Blues played with control, if not flair in the first half, but lost their discipline, control and direction against a resurgent Stormers in the second half.


The loss of playmaker and general Evans was a heavy blow to the Blues this week. His place was taken by All Blacks center Isaia Toeava, who lacked the tactical kicking skills to give Auckland territorial domination.


The Stormers were the better team throughout the second half but they lacked the spark to grasp the vital score.


Former All Blacks flyhalf Tony Brown lifted their game when he took the first receiver’s role in the second half but while they buckled, they couldn’t break the Blues’ defense.


“I’m still not really happy with our performance,” Auckland captain Troy Flavell said.


“We still turned over a lot of pill and made a lot of mistakes. If we want to stand a chance in the semifinals, we’ve got to pick up our act a bit.”


 

Blues 17 Stormers 14
 

Scorers

 

Blues

Tries – Danny Lee
Pen – Ben Atiga (4)

Con –

 

Stormers


Tries – Conrad Jantjes
Pen – Peter Grant (3)

Con –

Cards – Francois Louw (yellow)

Teams


Blues


1 Nick White, 2 Keven Mealamu , 3.Prop John Afoa , 4 Kurtis Haiu , 5 Troy Flavell (c) , 6 Jerome Kaino , 7 Daniel Braid , 8 Nick Williams , 9 Danny Lee , 10 Isaia Toeava,11 Rudi Wulf ,12 Benson Stanley , 13 AN Other , 14 Anthony Tuitavake ,
15 Ben Atiga,


Reserves: 16. Tom McCartney (FR) , 17. Tony Woodcock (FR) , 18. Bryn Evans , 19. Justin Collins , 20. Taniela Moa , 21. AN Other , 22. Joe Rokocoko.


Stormers


Conrad Jantjes; Tonderai Chavhanga, Gcobani Bobo, Jean De Villiers (c), Sireli Naqelevuki; Peter Grant, Ricky Januarie; Luke Watson, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Ross Skeate, Adriaan Fondse, Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, JD Moller.


Reserves – Deon Fourie, Brok Harris, Andries Bekker, Robbie Diack, Conrad Hoffmann, Gio Aplon, Tony Brown.

 

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