Auckland - All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu has scored a critical try against his former
team to lift the Blues to a 30-12 win over the Highlanders in round
seven of Super Rugby on Saturday.
Nonu surged over the
Highlanders' line in the 36th minute, propelled by his New Zealand
international teammate Steven Luatua after a clean break by scrumhalf
His try gave the Blues a 17-9 lead after a tight first
half and allowed them to go on to post their third win in six games and
avenge a 29-21 loss to the Highlanders earlier this season.
returned to the Blues lineup this year after spending last season with
the Highlanders and looked sharp at the center of a backline that has
both pace and power.
Flyhalf Simon Hickey also gave the Blues a
boost by kicking six goals from six attempts — three conversions and
three penalties for 15 points.
"I think the boys are starting to
get used to the expectation of how hard games are, especially these
local derbies," Blues captain Luke Braid said.
"You get to play everyone
twice so we were really looking forward to a payback for when they beat
us in the first round."
The Highlanders did get a strong
performance from Lima Sopoaga, who slotted four penalties from as many
attempts to score the Dunedin-based team's only points. Sopoaga also
kicked 25 points in the Highlanders' last match, a 35-31 win over the
Hurricanes in round six.
But against the Blues, the Highlanders
were held tryless, thanks in part to the hosts' strong defence.
visitors also suffered from handling lapses, a poor kicking game and too
"I suppose we didn't hold onto the ball at times,
put ourselves under a bit of pressure and played at the wrong end of
the field at times," captain Ben Smith said.
The Blues jumped out
to an early lead on center George Moala's try, but the Highlanders came
back on three penalties by Sopoaga to take a 9-7 lead midway through the
Nonu's try heading into halftime swung the momentum
back to the Blues' side, and fullback Charles Piutau then padded the
lead with another try in the 50th minute.
For the first time this
season, the Blues looked well-organized and commanding.
Some of the
credit for goes to Nonu and his former All Blacks teammate Jerome Kaino,
who was part of a dominant loose-forward trio.
Blues: 30 - Tries: George Moala, Ma'a Nonu, Charles Piutau; Conversions: Simon Hickey (3) Penalties: Hickey (3)
Highlanders: 12 - Penalties: Lima Sopoaga (4)