The Blues capitalised on the Reds’ poor discipline to claim a 39-16 bonus-point win in Auckland on Friday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The game marked Jerome Kaino’s final hurrah at Eden Park. It’s been a poor season for the Blues, but at the very least they’ve managed to send the All Blacks veteran off with a convincing win.
The Blues were helped by the Reds’ poor discipline, though. The visitors were shown two yellow cards in the space of two minutes, and proceeded to concede 13 points while they had 13 men on the park.
Wing Jordan Petaia was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle in the 23rd minute, while prop Taniela Tupou was shown yellow in the 25th. The Blues made the most of their two-man advantage, and went to the break with a 21-6 lead.
The Reds failed to recover. The Blues scored their fourth try through Stephen Perofeta shortly after half-time. Perofeta also slotted a penalty and conversion during this period. At 31-6, the Blues looked to be on course for a big win.
The Reds scored through centre Duncan Paia’aua in the 62nd minute. Blues lock Matiaha Martin was sent to the sin bin after his team had committed a series of cynical offences. Prop Sione Mafileo was the next to see yellow, receiving a card in the 68th minute after the Blues scrum had impeded for the umpteenth time.
The Reds finished strongly and scored through reserve hooker Alex Mafi. The Blues had the final say, though, with Caleb Clarke crossing the tryline at the death to give his side the bonus point.
Blues – Tries: Melani Nanai, Rieko Ioane, Matt Moulds, Stephen Perofeta, Caleb Clarke. Conversion: Perofeta. Penalties: Perofeta (3), Bryn Gatland.
Reds – Tries: Duncan Paia’aua, Alex Mafi. Penalties: Jono Lance (2).
Blues – 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Matiaha Martin, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Subs: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane.
Reds – 15 Jono Lance, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Hamish Stewart, 9 Moses Sorovi, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Harry Hockings, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith.
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Caleb Timu, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Aidan Toua, 23 Filipo Daugunu.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images