Super rugby Trans Tasman

Bryce Heem stars as Blues beat Waratahs

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The Blues thrashed the NSW Waratahs 48-21 in a one-sided Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match at Eden Park, Auckland.

Bryce Heem bagged a hat-trick and set up a score as the Blues went top of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman with a 27-point victory.

This was a comfortable bonus-point win against feeble opposition for the home team in the City of Sails.

The Blues did not have everything their own way despite the final score; the Tahs made them work harder than anticipated for the win.

Another lopsided defeat means the Waratahs set an unwanted losing record of 10 Super Rugby matches in a row, eclipsing two nine-game losing streaks (2012-13 and 2021).

Heem, Tom Robinson, and Kurt Eklund all scored as the Blues established a slender eight-point first-half lead.

Angus Bell and Jake Gordon dotted down for the Waratahs, but they fell away in the second stanza.

Rieko Ioane, a penalty try, and two more Heem scores saw Leon MacDonald’s men run away with the game and all five points.

The Waratahs wilted, although they did get another try when hooker Dave Porecki barged over.

The Blues dominated all facets of a one-sided first half, but only led 22-14 at the break

New South Wales had only beaten the Blues once in New Zealand in Super Rugby history in 11 previous attempts before this loss.

The Australians never looked like winning at the 13th time of asking.

MacDonald’s men had two-thirds possession and territory, they made almost three times more run metres, won more rucks, conceded fewer penalties, won more mauls, and scored more tries.

However, profligacy with ball-in-hand and in the red zone hampered the Auckland side and allowed the Sydney men to stay within touching distance.

Otere Black opened the scoring with an early penalty.

Heem scored in the eighth-minute and set up his captain Robinson’s 28th-minute score after a wonderful solo charge-down and break from his own half.

Heem beat five defenders on six carries and ran for 98 first-half run metres as he wreaked havoc in the wide channels.

It looked as though the Blues would run up a cricket score at the famous multi-sports stadium.

Yet somehow the Waratahs found a way to stay in the game.

Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker’s beleaguered side managed to score twice in four minutes to make it a one-point ball game.

Bell’s bulldozing run from outside the Blues’ 22 got the ball rolling for the Australians.

A mistake by Finlay Christie stunned the hosts when his loose pass was intercepted by opposite number Gordon.

The Tahs skipper raced from inside his half to score under the posts. Will Harrison converted both scores to make it 15-14.

Eklund crashed over from a driving maul a couple of minutes before the interval to make it a two-score game.

Four second-half tries saw MacDonald’s charges pull away as Waratahs wilted

NSW finished the game with the better of the possession (65%) and territory (68%) but was outscored four tries to one.

They could not get over the line despite the Blues’ defence not being solid, but bad teams make bad decisions.

Heem continued to run riot. The 32-year-old finished with 181 run metres from nine runs and scored two more tries in the fourth quarter.

Rieko Ioane also had a terrific game. The All Blacks centre ended with 115 run metres from five runs, beating three defenders as well as dotting down once.

To put these two performances into context, Jack Maddocks (50 MR) and James Turner (MR) were the only Tahs players to break a half-century in run metres.

Eight minutes after the restart, Ioane picked up the ball and ghosted straight through a mini-ruck to race away unchallenged to score the first points after the break. Black converted.

Soon it was 36-14. Harry Johnson-Holmes was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul, and from the following scrum, the Blues dismantled the opposing pack.

It left referee Brendon Pickerill no option but to award a penalty try.

Porecki pulled a try back from close range, five minutes later.

But the Blues had the final word thanks to some expert finishing by their new star.

Heem scored twice in 10 minutes to claim a treble and settle the points as the hosts go back on top of the Super Rugby table.

Final Score: Blues 48 (22) Waratahs 21 (14)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – Heem (3), Robinson, Eklund, R. Ioane, Penalty try
Pen – Black
Con – Black (4)
Drop –
Cards –

Waratahs
Tries – Bell, Gordon, Porecki
Pen –
Con – Harrison (3)
Drop –
Cards – Johnson-Holmes (Yellow, 57′)

Match Officials
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Mabey
Assistant Ref 2: Lauen Jenner
TMO: Shane McDermott

Teams

Blues

15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 AJ Lam, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Tom Robinson (captain), 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe

Replacements:
 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

NSW Waratahs

15 Will Harrison, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 James Turner, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 William Harris, 7 Charlie Gamble, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Max Douglas, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 Angus Bell

Replacements
: 16 Joe Cotton, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Carlo Tizzano, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Jack Grant, 23 Mark Nawaqanitawase

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