July 7, 2012
Blues sign off at Eden Park on a high
By SANZAR News Service and theblues.co.nz
The Blues finally gave their faithful fans reason to cheer after running over the Western Force 32-9 at Eden Park in their final match at their home ground for the 2012 Super Rugby season.
It has been a dismal season for the Blues, who have battled an unprecedented run of injuries and lurched from one defeat to another, but they managed to sign off at Eden Park with a convincing win.
It was a far from faultless effort from the Blues who had a woeful first half and gifted the ball to their opponents on countless occasions, but they found their rhythm in the second half to carve up the hapless Force and earn themselves a bonus point victory.
In what has become the shining light in an otherwise gloomy Blues season, the promising youngsters once again rose to the challenge and had brilliant games.
Charles Piutau was electric on debut and bagged a try, while his former New Zealand Under-20 teammate Steven Luatua also found himself on the scoresheet.
The 10,200 die-hard Blues fans who descended upon Eden Park may have thought they were in for another disappointing effort tonight as they watched their side give away silly penalties, throw wild speculative passes and have trouble at scrum time.
It was just fortunate the Western Force were worse or it may have been a different verdict. Facing a similar injury crisis to the Blues, the Force lacked any real firepower to punish the Blues’ indiscretions as first five Ben Seymour and Lachie Munro traded early penalty kicks.
Ma’a Nonu was hungry for work after enjoying a break away from the game and he looked to have bagged the opening try after 23 minutes, only for the TMO to adjudge the ball had been held up.
However from the ensuing five metre scrum, the ball went blind and Steven Luatua got himself into a good body position to drive through three defenders and crash over the line.
Munro and Seymour traded further penalty goals to give the Blues a narrow 13-9 lead at half time before the flood gates opened in the second stanza.
14 minutes in, the Blues' most experienced player combined with the newest cap for a lovely try.
Playing his 131st Blues game after returning from injury, Keven Mealamu made some great metres down the short side, and the ball was then flung wide as as debutant Chales Piutau produced a brilliant in and away to leave centre Will Tupou grasping at air.
The try looked to have sparked the Blues into action as they scored straight from the re-start.
Following some lovely hands by the forwards, Nonu sent the ball wide to Peter Saili on the bounce who stepped one player, fended another and then offloaded back inside to Nonu who shrugged off Brett Sheehan to score his 100th first class try.
With the Blues taking a commanding 27-9 lead, Orene Ai’i was introduced to the game for his first appearance in Blues colours in eight years and showed some lovely touches.
The bonus point try came with 10 minutes remaining as the Blues applied pressure to the Force’s five metre scrum, and as the ball squirted out from the side, Luke Braid was on hand to pick it up and somehow brush off three defenders to score.
The Blues will play their final game of the season against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night.