Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Blues end winless run

The Blues kept alive their hopes of reaching the Super Rugby play-offs and ended their long wait for an away win after sweeping aside the Western Force 40-14 following a stunning start in Perth.

The Blues had not been victorious on the road since the opening game of last season but that record was as good as rectified inside 18 minutes at nib Stadium as they ran in four unanswered tries through Ihaia West, Charlie Faumuina, Lolagi Visinia and Ma'a Nonu.

That blitz gave the Auckland-based side a 26-0 lead and a bonus point, but the punishment did not end there for the Force with Blues captain Luke Braid and Pita Ahki adding two more tries in the second half.

The Force also managed to notch two scores of own after the interval through Nathan Charles and replacement Brynard Stander, but there was precious little else for the home supporters to get excited about on a largely miserable evening.

Victory sees the Blues join the seventh-placed Force on 36 points with two matches of the regular season remaining and everything still to play for.

The match was as good as over inside the opening quarter as the Blues ran riot to make a mockery of their 13-match losing streak away from home.

Fly-half West opened the floodgates in the fifth minute when a chip forward bounced kindly for him and allowed him to race over in the corner before he added a superb touchline conversion.

While West's try was a combination of two good kicks, a little bit of luck and blistering speed, the Blues second try was down to brute power as New Zealand prop Faumuina barged his way through a couple of tackles to touch down following a ruck.

Try number three arrived in the 14th minute when the Blues charged down an attempted clearance, turned the ball over and quickly spread play out to the left wing where Visinia went over.

West, having slotted over his first two conversions, was unable to add the extras on that occasion but he made no mistake four minutes later after Nonu had added the Blues' fourth try, the All Blacks star showing tremendous strength as he shrugged off three tackles to score.

The Force managed to regroup slightly after that early mauling and almost scored themselves just after the half-hour, being stopped just short of the tryline.

The home side would not get any closer than that in the first half and they found themselves further adrift in the 56th minute when Blues skipper Braid was driven over the line by his team-mates to notch try number five for the visitors.

Charles finally gave the Force fans something to cheer when he barged over for a try in the 64th minute following a quickly-taken tap penalty, but within seven minutes of that score the Blues were celebrating their sixth score of the afternoon through Ahki following another chip and chase.

The Force had the final word when replacement Stander notched their second try with the last action of the match, but the battle had already been well lost by that stage.


From Belfast Telegraph