Action between Highlanders and Blues. Photo Courtesy/ Ultimate.

Blues edge Highlanders to maintain perfect run in Super Rugby Aotearoa


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Blues registered the third straight win of the Super Rugby Aotearoa after edging Highlanders 27-24 at Eden Park on Saturday.

Blues took a 22-10 lead to the break after scoring three tries in the opening half.  Their first try of the game came towards the sixth minute. After some big carries by the forwards,  Caleb Clarke took advantage of half a gap available and drove in to score the first try. Otere Black’s conversion saw the side lead 7-0.

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Highlanders reply came five minutes later with captain Ash Dixon driving in to score next to the right-hand upright. An easy conversion ensured the sides were level at 7-7. Blues, however, regained the lead at the 13th minute with Black drilling in a 35-metre penalty for a three-point gap.

Mitch Hunt would tie the scores once again following his penalty at the 21st minute. The Blues were able to break away after Lander’s debutant Scott Gregory attempt to clear the ball from his territory was charged by Sotutu, Dalton Papali’i pounced on the scraps to score while Black converted for a 17-10 lead.

Blues third try came before the 30th minute with  Clarke who was on a break linking up with Rieko Ioane who accelerated to score. Black failed to add the extras for a 22-10 scoreline heading to the break.

Second half

Highlanders came back stronger from the break and scored at the 44th minute. Hunt glided past his markers after cutting inside and dived over their second try. He added a conversion for a 22-17 trail.  Highlanders try at the 51st minute was ruled out after the TMO revealed that Hunt knocked on before the ball was passed to Ngane Punivai to score.

Rieko Ioane would, however, be yellow carded for an offside infringement and Blues were down to 14. The resulting penalty saw the Highlanders opt for a line-out and they would keep the ball tight. After eight phases, Shannon Frizell picked the ball and powered to the try line. Hunt split the upright and Highlanders led for the first time in the clash 24-22.

Blues restored the lead eight minutes later. A clinical maul from the lineout saw them gain ground and Dalton Papali’i would break away to grab his second try of the night. Black couldn’t add the extras and his side would take a three-point lead.

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Blues defence would stand tall in the dying minutes to win the third straight clash.

 

 

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