Super rugby Trans Tasman

Unbeaten Blues beat resilient Reds

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The Blues beat the Queensland Reds 24-31 in a free-flowing Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Round Four clash at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.

The unbeaten Blues stay top of the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman table after an impressive away display against Queensland, Australia’s best Super Rugby team.

The Queensland Reds, who upset the high-flying Chiefs in Brisbane last weekend, could not stop Leon MacDonald’s table-topping charges.

MacDonald’s men ended Queensland’s five-match unbeaten home run against the Auckland franchise.

Dalton Papalii, Mark Telea, Patrick Tuipulotu, and Finlay Christie all dotted down for the visitors.

Otere Black kicked a penalty and converted all four tries for 11 points.

Brad Thorn’s side could win back-to-back games versus New Zealand opposition for the first time since April 2013.

Harry Wilson, Paenga-Amosa, and Filipo Daugunu crossed for the hosts; Isaac Henry converted all three scores, while Daugunu kicked a late penalty.

Last week’s win over the Chiefs was achieved in part because of Damian McKenzie’s red card as well as a yellow card before his sending off.

Queensland scored most of their points while the Chiefs were down to 13 and 14 players. Once the visitors had a full quota in the second half, they almost won the game despite trailing 33-3.

The Blues, who kept their discipline intact, were no pushovers; instead, it was the hosts who paid the price for ill-discipline when Brandon Paenga-Amosa, playing his last game at Suncorp Stadium, got a yellow card.

The card accounted for a 14-point swing, which proved costly in a game that ended with the teams within a goal of each other.

The Reds were dealt two big blows before the game when co-captain and playmaker James O’Connor and Bryce Hegarty were ruled out injured.

O’Connor suffered a neck injury and was ruled out at lunch, and Hegarty had a slight hamstring issue.

Nineteen-year-old Mac Grealy made his Super Rugby and Reds debut at fullback for Hegarty, and Hamish Stewart went to standoff in place of O’Connor.

The Blues led by 10 points at halftime after Paenga-Amosa’s yellow card cost the Reds two converted tries

Black opened the scoring with a 12th-minute penalty before Wilson put the hosts ahead with the first try of the night.

On 22 minutes, Hunter Paisami put Wilson through a tiny gap between two forwards, and the No. 8 raced away to score.

Paisami’s pass looked forward on replay, but the ref and TMO do not call it – it would not be the last iffy call from the officials.

Henry, on kicking duty in place of the injured O’Connor and Hegarty, added the extras.

The game turned on 26 minutes when  Paenga-Amosa collapsed a driving maul and got sent to the sin-bin.

Up until that point, the Reds were the better team, Paenga-Amosa the best player on the field.

The hooker’s card cost 14 points as both Papalii and Telea scored to put their team in front at halftime.

Henry missed a long-range penalty after the hooter.

A tight second half saw the Reds go close but Blues hang on for the win

The game was gone when Tuipulotu barged over four minutes after the restart.

The try came from two lost lineouts in a row by the home team, who had a nightmare in the lineout set-piece.

But Thorn’s side hit back through their marauding hooker.

Paenga-Amosa picked up a loose ball that had squirted out of a ruck on the Blues’ line, and he flopped on the ball for the score.

The TMO ruled the try was legit despite the ball looking like it went forward before the score. Henry converted, making it 14-24.

The home side’s joy was short-lived because Christie darted around a ruck to push the visitor’s lead to 17 points, on 55 minutes.

The Reds did not give up, in fact, they got better as the game wore on.

The only problem was breaking through the Blues’ stubborn defence. They spent an age inside the Auckland 22, but could never cross the whitewash.

Eventually, with less than 10 minutes to play, Stewart and Daugunu combined to score their side’s third try.

Stewart’s crossfield kick was pin-point, and the big winger beat two Blues’ defenders to catch the ball and score; Henry converted.

Daugunu kicked a long-range penalty to bring the game to within seven points with less than 30 seconds remaining.

Time, however, ran out for the Super Rugby AU champions, the Blues march on.

Final Score: Reds 24 (7) Blues 31 (17)

Scorers

Reds
Tries – Wilson, Paenga-Amosa, Daugunu
Pen – Daugunu
Con – Henry (3)
Drop –
Cards – Paenga-Amosa (Yellow, 26′)

Blues
Tries – Papalii, Telea, Tuipulotu, Christie
Pen – Black
Con – Black (4)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 2:Jordan way
TMO: Brett Cronan

Teams

Reds

15 Mac Grealy, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Isaac Henry, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Hamish Stewart, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika

Replacements:
 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Sam Wallis, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Joshua Flook, 23 Ilaisa Droasese

Blues

15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe

Replacements:
 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 AJ Lam

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