Auckland - The Blues claimed their second win of the Super Rugby season when they beat the Western Force 41-24 at Eden
Park on Saturday.
Akira Ioane was the star of the show for the hosts as he
crossed for a wonderful individual score in the five-try performance in front
of their fans in Auckland.
However, the Blues and New Zealand will be interested to
hear the news on injured duo Jerome Kaino (finger) and Charles Piutau (knee),
who both were withdrawn from the action in the 17th and 32nd minute
The Blues went in at the break 17-0 up after an assured
first-half effort that saw them score two tries via Melani Nanai and Steven
Luatua's crossing on the stroke of half-time proved decisive
in the game as it gave the Blues a two-score cushion over a poor Force outfit.
It was flyhalf Daniel Bowden who opened the scoring in the
third minute when a run from centre George Moala led to Force number eight Ben
McCalman going off his feet at a ruck. Bowden stepped up and landed the three
before Luke Burton missed a long-range shot for the visitors.
Burton wasn't alone in being unsuccessful though as on
eighteen minutes, Bowden was wayward with a simple attempt that stunned the
player. Fortunately for him his blushes were short-lived as Nanai raced in five
minutes later down the left touchline before Bowden kicked the two.
The Blues were now ten points to the good when Piutau joined
Kaino on the sideline but they weren't done there in the half because after
Western Force full-back Dane Haylett-Petty was yellow carded for taking out a
man in the air, they launched a late-half onslaught on the whitewash.
First prop Tony Woodcock went close from a metre out before
the resulting scrum saw Luatua race over off the back of the set-piece for
The Blues were in no mood to let up in the second-half, as first
Nanai grabbed his brace to cap a powerful break from Moala on 43 minutes and
then with the score of the game five minutes later, with the impressive Ioane
showing real pace from 40 metres to go in. Ihaia West made it 31-0.
Ioane had made well over 100m and beaten ten defenders by
that point but it was the Force who struck next, showing good character as prop
Pek Cowan crashed over to reduce the scoreline to 31-7 with centre Burton's
conversion. However, pride was all they were playing for.
They reclaimed some of that with a second try on 60 minutes
as captain Matt Hodgson went over, peeling off the back of a maul to score.
At 31-12, the Blues were smart in their mindset when they
opted for three points via the boot of West to establish a healthier cushion
for the last sixteen minutes. But then West struck with ball in hand to put the
icing on the cake for his side, who looked high on confidence.
Scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens did cross for a late try from close
range for the Force on 69 minutes before McCalman went over for a bonus point
try, but the margin was simply too great for the visitors to recover from as
the Blues claimed a comfortable victory.
Tries: Melani Nanai (2), Steven Luatua, Akira Ioane, Ihaia West
Conversions: Dan Bowden (2), Lolagi Visinia, West (2)
Penalties: Bowden, West
Tries: Pekahou Cowan, Matt Hodgson, Ryan Louwrens, Ben McCalman
Conversions: Luke Burton, Sias Ebersohn
15 Charles Piutau. 14 Lolagi Visinia, 13 Francis Saili, 12 George Moala/Hamish Northcott, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Luke Braid, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Tevita Li
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan
Substitutes: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Marcel Brache, 23 Junior Rasolea