Super Rugby

Late Lam brace sees Blues blow away Chiefs

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The Blues beat the Chiefs 39-19 in the last game of the round-robin stage of the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season at Eden Park, Auckland.

AJ Lam came off the bench and bagged a brace as the Blues scored six tries to one in this hard-fought contest in the City of Sails against a spirited Chiefs outfit.

The bonus-point win puts them level with the Chiefs on the Super Rugby Aotearoa log, but the visitors had already qualified for next week’s final against the Crusaders.

Kurt Eklund, Adrian Choat, Zarn Sullivan – on debut – and Hoskins Sotutu also crossed for Leon MacDonald’s men.


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Otere Black kicked three conversions and one penalty for nine points.

Bryn Gatland kept his side in the hunt, converting Sean Stevenson’s second-half try and kicking four penalties for 14 points.

It was, however, not enough as the wheels fell off in the last quarter as the Blues scored 20 points to blow out the final score.

Out-of-sorts Blues led at the break as too many Chiefs’ mistakes prove costly

The hosts scored two converted tries through forwards Eklund and Choat.

But Gatland, kicking for poles for the first time this season, added three penalties to keep the Chiefs in the game at halftime.

Clayton McMillan’s charges only trailed by five points at the break, but they could have scored at least two tries. Several chances went begging.

Pita Gus Sowakula, Sean Wainui, Brailyn Sullivan, and Ollie Norris all went close, but the Blues led 14-9 when the teams went into the sheds.

Norris’ try was chalked off in a controversial fashion for an offside. The officials deemed Stevenson to be in an offside position after Kaleb Trask knocked a loose Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi pass backward.

The Chiefs, having already qualified for the Super Rugby Aotearoa final, selected a young, inexperienced side, who did not disgrace themselves.

Gatland opened the scoring, on five minutes, after Rieko Ioane’s high tackle on Wainui.

Zarn Sullivan’s long-range effort dropped under the posts, but the Blues did strike on 18 minutes when Eklund burst through a hole and raced 25 metres to score.

Eklund went Route One from crash-ball at the ruck.

He ghosting through lock Samipeni Finau and loosehead prop Ollie Norris and sprinted away. Black converted from next to the posts.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 10 Video Highlights: Blues vs Chiefs, Eden Park, Auckland

Bailyn Sullivan went close minutes later, but he was not awarded a try because of a double movement. He did, however, look to have knocked on, as well, as looking short of the line.

Gatland kicked another penalty to make it a one-point game, but Choat crashed over after the Blues battered the Chiefs’ line with a series of pick and drives. Black added the extras.

Norris’ try was chalked off five minutes before the break, but some pressure by the visitors forced Finlay Christie offside.

Gatland – after the hooter – slotted his third penalty goal to reduce the deficit.

Chiefs scare Blues before the bench saves the day for McDonald’s side

The Blues began the second stanza by almost scoring, but the TMO could not see any reason to overturn the referee’s onfield call.

Instead, the Chiefs kept chipping away at the scoreboard when Gatland added a 49th-minute penalty to make it a two-point ball game.

However, the Blues hit back immediately from a devastating counter-attack. Black and Rieko Ioane combined to send debutant Sullivan in for his first Super Rugby try.

Sam Nock was isolated after some shoddy decision-making by the Blues, which put the scrumhalf under pressure. Tom Florence won the turnover to set up the Chiefs’ counter-attack.

The visitors recycled wide to Gideon Wrampling, who offloaded to Stevenson to score. Gatland’s conversion leveled the scores at 19-19.

Blues pull away in the final quarter with a late three-try blitz

Black kicked a 66th-minute penalty to put the Blues back in front. By now, the Blues’ pack was dominating their opponents.

MacDonald’s men won a host of penalties at the scrum. It was only a matter of time before the Chiefs’ resistance was broken.

A series of attacks put MacDonald’s men back on the front foot as they asserted their scrum dominance in the final quarter.

Sotutu broke off the back of another dominant scrum and powered through three defenders to score.

Black’s conversion opened up a 10-point lead with less than five minutes to play.

Lam ended the game with two late tries as the Blues ran up the score at the death.

Final Score: Blues 39 (14) Chiefs 19 (9)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – Eklund, Choat, Z. Sullivan, Sotutu, Lam (2)
Pen – Black
Con – Black (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Chiefs
Tries – Stevenson
Pen – Gatland (4)
Con – Gatland
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 2: Paul Williams
TMO: Brendon Pickerill

Teams

Blues

15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane (co-captain), 12 Tanielu Tele’a, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Tom Robinson (co-captain), 5 Sam Darry, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe

Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Ofa Tuungafasi, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 AJ Lam

Chiefs

15 Kaleb Trask, 14 Bailyn Sullivan, 13 Sean Wainui (captain), 12 Rameka Poihipi, 11 Shaun Stevenson, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Zane Kapeli, 6 Viliami Taulani, 5 Josh Lord, 4 Samipeni Finau, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Bradley Slater, 1 Ollie Norris

Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Joe Apikotoa, 19 Liam Messam, 20 Tom Florence, 21 Xavier Roe, 22 Rivez Reihana, 23 Gideon Wrampling

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