Cape Town - The despair and anguish on Ma'a
Nonu's face typified the Blues's terrible Super Rugby season on
Friday as they crashed to their seventh successive loss when they were
beaten 35-19 by the Wellington Hurricanes.
Nonu had missed the
tackle on TJ Perenara inside the Hurricanes 22-metre area which led to
him standing behind his own goal line 12 seconds later watching Beauden
Barrett attempt to convert Andre Taylor's eighth try of the season.
The try gave the Hurricanes a 13-12 lead seven minutes before halftime,
a lead they never relinquished as they controlled the second half with
tries from Julian Savea, Perenara and Jason Eaton.
The match was
supposed to be a homecoming of sorts for Nonu, who played more than 100
games for the Hurricanes before being released last year, and scrumhalf
Weepu had joined Nonu at the Blues, rejecting the
offer of a contract from the Hurricanes, and the partisan crowd did not
let him forget it with boos resounding around Wellington Regional
Stadium every time he lined up a shot at goal in the first half.
Weepu, however, gradually silenced the cat calls with four successive
kicks, which proved to be all of the visitors' points in the first 40
minutes as they wasted a wealth of possession and field position with
poor handling and decision making.
Given the Blues' error rate
it was hardly surprising three of the Hurricanes' five tries came from
mistakes - Taylor's was from a turnover and missed tackle while two
others resulted from handling errors by Blues winger George Moala.
The first when he dropped a cross kick from Barrett and Hurricanes
captain Conrad Smith pounced on the ball early in the first half.
The second was even worse, when he fumbled a speculative grubber kick
from Perenara and the ball bounced to replacement prop Reg Goodes, who
barged over though the television match official ruled he had been held
up in goal.
Perenara, however, scored the bonus point try from
the ensuing scrum to give the Hurricanes a 28-12 lead after Barrett had
added the conversion.
Benson Stanley scored a late consolation
try from long range for the Blues before Hurricanes lock Eaton added his
side's fifth in the final minute to complete the scoring.Teams:
15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May
Substitutes: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Reg Goodes, 18 Jack Lam, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Charlie Ngatai, 22 Alapati Leiua.Blues:
15 Hadleigh Parkes, 14 Rene Ranger, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 George Moala, 10 Michael Hobbs, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid (captain), 6 Chris Lowrey, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tevita Mailau
Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Lachie Munro, 22 David Raikuna