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    Blues too strong for Force in Auckland

    2017-04-01 08:04

    Auckland - A yellow card proved costly for the Western force as the Auckland Blues rallied to win their Super Rugby encounter 24-15 at Eden Park on Saturday.

    While Isi Naisarani was off the field Blues scored two tries and piled on 12 points with the Force ultimately losing by nine.

    AS IT HAPPENED: BLUES 24-15 FORCE

    As the Blues banked their third win from six matches, it lifted them off the bottom of the New Zealand conference and extended New Zealand's dominance over Australian sides to 8-0 this season.

    Force captain Matt Hodgson said the yellow card proved very costly.

    "We lost a player to the bin and they scored two tries and they got some momentum there," he said.

    "There were some lapses in defence and they scored three long range tries."

    Blues skipper James Parsons readily conceded it was not a great performance by his side.

    "We didn't execute well out of our own half," Parsons said. "We'll enjoy the win but we've got plenty to work on."

    The Force, who yielded 45 points to the Canterbury Crusaders last week and are battling to show they deserve to remain in a trimmed down competition, controlled the first 20 minutes.

    They exploited holes around the Blues ruck, and with a Jono Lance penalty and a Richie Arnold try, when the big lock drove over from close range, they were 8-0 ahead with the Blues struggling to get their game under way.

    But the match turned when back rower Naisarani was sent to the sin bin for not retreating when the Blues took a tap penalty in the shadow the posts.

    While the Force were reduced to 14 men, the Blues scored a try to replacement loose forward Akira Ioane and one to wing Matt Duffie who finished off a 70-metre counter-attack sparked by George Moala.

    With Piers Frances converting Ioane's try the Blues turned with a 12-8 lead.

    In a ragged second half, the Force restored to their full complement of players pressured the tryline only to lose the ball and see the Blues reply with long-range tries finished off by Reiko Ioane and Michael Collins.

    With time almost up, the Force managed to score a Dane Haylett-Petty try to deny the Blues a bonus point.

    The Blues next week play the Otago Highlanders who slip back to the bottom of the New Zealand conference while the Force, with one win from six games, play the Southern Kings in Perth.

    Scorers:

    Blues

    Tries: Akira Iaone, Matt Duffie, Rieko Iaone, Richie Arnold

    Conversions: Piers Francis, Ihaia West

    Force

    Try: Richie Arnold, Dane Haylett-Petty

    Conversion: Ian Prior

    Penalty: Jonno Lance

    Teams:

    Blues

    15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu

    Substitutes: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi / Sam Prattley, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Rieko Ioane

    Force

    15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Chance Peni, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Ben Daley

    Substitutes: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Richard Hardwick, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Robbie Coleman

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