Wednesday 21 February 2018 / 02:11 PM


BLUES 18 d. BRUMBIES 12 @ GIO Stadium

The Blues held on for a tense 18-12 away win over the Brumbies – and picked up a bonus point despite the tight scoreline after scoring the only three tries of the match.

THE MATCH: After Bryn Gatland and Wharenui Hawera traded penalty goals, the Blues looked to have scored the first try courtesy of a spectacular aerial finish in the corner from Matt Duffie, but the NRL convert placed the ball on the touch in-goal line.

The Blues took an 8-3 lead into the sheds, however, when Duffie atoned by reaching out in the 31st minute.

The Brumbies clawed their way to a 9-8 advantage through Hawera’s accurate goalkicking, but Akira Ioane put the visitors back in front with 25 minutes to go with a try from a rolling maul.

Hawera closed the gap to one point before the Blues achieved some crucial breathing space in the 68th minute, Augustine Pulu and Duffie combining to send Melani Nanai over for the Blues’ third try.

The home side’s stagnant attack meant the Blues were never in any real danger of losing the game in the dying seconds, instead securing a rare and richly-deserved victory on the road.

The result made it 0-15 for Aussie Super Rugby teams against their Kiwi counterparts in 2017.

THE MAN: Strapping youngster Melani Nanai made a huge impact off the bench after replacing Blues fullback Michael Collins, making 68 metres from eight carries and scoring the match-sealing try.

THE MOMENT: Blues halfback Augustine Pulu showed all the class that saw him called up by the All Blacks, looping a massive pass out to Duffie, who calmly positioned Nanai for the crucial score. In a close-fought game where keeping the ball in tight close to the try-line is most teams’ M.O., it was a calculated gamble and a huge play from the game-breaking No.9.

[YouTube – Rugby League/Union]

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Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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