Rieko Ioane bagged a brace of tries as the Blues registered a commanding 43-10 bonus-point win over the Lions at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Lions were coming off the back of three defeats, including two on this current tour against the Waratahs and Rebels. The Blues, though, tasted victory in their last three outings against the Bulls, Stormers and Hurricanes.
And they followed the same form book in this encounter, as the Lions’ best attempts again horribly failed despite some promising signs early on in the contest.
There was nothing between the sides in the opening quarter of the game, as the Lions employed the trusted formula of forward runners to get on the front foot. And while it worked well, especially with Willem Alberts bashing his way over Blues defenders with strong carries, the Lions’ failure to finish off from a perfect platform cost them.
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) March 14, 2020
And as the match progressed, the Blues gained more and more forward momentum. With the score at 8-7 in the Blues’ favour, the Lions won a penalty straight in front. Had they taken the shot at goal, they would have regained the lead. But, bizarrely, captain Elton Janties opted for a lineout, where the hosts easily negated their attempt at a driving maul and turned possession over.
From there, the Blues effortlessly worked their way downfield to score at the other end. It got worse for the Lions as they conceded a yellow card and a penalty try to go into the break down by 12 points and reduced to 14 men.
The Blues were ruthless in the second half as they continued their brilliant support play with clinical execution. Deprived of possession, the Lions were made to chase shadows, an assertion best illustrated by the 31 missed tackles from 81 overall tackle attempts.
Like he did in the first half, Ioane opened the scoring after the interval to complete his try double. And when the Lions lost Hacjivah Dayimani and Manie Rass to serious-looking injuries, the fight just complete went out of them.
In the end, the Blues added two more breakout tries to wrap up what was their first home win of the season.
As for the Lions, they travel to Dunedin where they will take on the Highlanders in their last match on what has so far been a horrid tour.
Blues – Tries: Rieko Ioane (2), Stephen Perofeta, penalty try, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Hoskins Sotutu. Conversions: Otere Black (4), automatic conversion. Penalty: Black.
Lions – Try: Dan Kriel. Conversion: Elton Jantjies. Penalty: Jantjies.
Blues – 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane (c), 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Jacob Pierce, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Joe Walsh, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Aaron Carroll/Sam Caird, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Emoni Narawa.
Lions – 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (c), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani 7 Ruan Vermaak, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Frans van Wyk, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Dylan Smith.
Subs: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Andries Coetzee.
Photo: Renee McKay/Getty Images