Perth - A three try burst after half-time enabled the Blues to start their Vodacom Super 14 campaign with an encouraging 25-19 win over the Force at the Subiaco Oval in Perth on Friday.
The Blues trailed by six points at half-time, as the Force led 14-8, but put a bumbling first 40 minutes behind them by scoring 17 unanswered points in 14 minutes straight after the break. That effectively snuffed out the Force challenge, as the home team had been tenacious in defending in the face of a strong wind and a quite dominant Blues challenge up to that point.
When the Force started the second half with a lead after playing into the elements, they must have thought they were on the road to victory. But it turned out to be one of those weird games where more points were scored playing into the wind than against it.
The Blues would have gone into the change-room at the change-over feeling extremely frustrated after taking control of the battle for both territory and possession when playing with the wind. They did get the first points on the board through a penalty, but the Force struck with a well constructed try after 16 minutes.
It was Matt Giteau who made the break, and after a recycle near the Blues line it was AJ Whalley who used his momentum to go over and score a try that Giteau converted. Then just minutes later the Blues built up impressively, and looked to be creating a try with numbers out wide in space, only or Drew Mitchell to intercept and run the length of the field to score.
The Blues struck with a try from Chris Lowrey, and came close on another couple of occasions, often only being denied by a last gasp tackle from the Force, but they would have felt the force was against theas most of the 50/50s went the opposition way.
But whatever was said by coach Pat Lam at the halfway point worked wonders, with Justin Collins, Anthony Boric and giant scrumhalf Taniela Moa crossing in quick succession while the Force appeared to be engaged in snooze control. Force scored a third try through replacement Tom Hockings, but ultimately the bottom line was that they just weren’t winning enough possession to mount an effective challenge.
It was a morale-boosting win for the Blues, who travel to Pretoria to face the Bulls next week, but for the Force, who had well publicised problems in the camp in the pre-season, are now under pressure as they await the arrival of the Cheetahs.
Force: Tries: AJ Whalley, Drew Mitchell, Tim Hockings. Conversions: Matt Giteau (2)
Blues: Tries: Chris Lowrey, Justin Collins, Anthony Boric, Taniela Moa. Conversion: Jimmy Gopperth. Penalty: Paul Williams.