Cape Town - Scott Higginbotham became the first forward to score 40 Super Rugby tries on
Friday as the Reds snatched 29-28 victory over the Blues in Brisbane.
As it happened: Reds v Blues
The veteran No 8 bagged two tries, including a match-winner with four
minutes left, to help his side edge the Auckland-based team and end a 15-game
losing streak against New Zealand opposition.
Defeat for the Blues ended any hope they had of making the playoffs with the
Reds also out of contention, barring a miracle, after a match that may have
been the last home game for inspirational captain Samu Kerevi.
He has been strongly linked with a move to Suntory in Japan after this
year's World Cup, and his departure will be a huge loss.
"For this team and this state to get that win means a lot because it's
been a long time coming," Kerevi, who was in tears at the final whistle,
said of the New Zealand win drought.
"We have just an exceptional group of young men here who are really
humble and hard working."
The Blues might have been without rested All Blacks duo Rieko Ioane and
Patrick Tuipulotu, but they came out firing and scored a converted try after
just two minutes when Blake Gibson barged over from a pick-and-drive.
Tanielu Tele'a got them another before the hulking Higginbotham, who will
play for Bordeaux next year, scored his 40th try following a lovely offload
from Jock Campbell.
Further tries for the Blues' Augustine Pulu and the Reds' Taniela Tupou sent
them into the break with the home team trailing 15-21.
The Reds hauled themselves into the lead early in the second stanza with
Bryce Hegarty getting a converted try before Pulu darted over from close range
for his second to restore the Blues advantage.
As the clock ticked down Higginbotham broke away for his second five-pointer
to ensure he went out with a bang in his final home game in Reds colours.
Tries: Scott Higginbotham (2), Taniela Tupou, Bryce Hegarty
Conversion: Hegarty (3)
Tries: Blake Gibson, Taniela Tele’a, Augustine Pulu (2)
Conversions: Otere Black (4)
15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi (captain), 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Matt McGahan, 9 Scott Malolua, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith
Substitutes: 16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Gav Luka, 19 Harry Hockings, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Hamish Stewart
15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 TJ Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Tanielu Tele’a, 10 Otere Black, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson (captain), 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman
Substitutes: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Lua Li, 19 Tom Robinson, 20 Josh Goodhue, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Levi Aumua