Un­der-strength Blues still too good for the Reds

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

A LATE counter-at­tack­ing try from re­place­ment fly­half Stephen Pero­feta gave the Auck­land Blues a 34-29 vic­tory over the Queens­land Reds in a Su­per Rugby match in Apia yes­ter­day.

Cen­tre Rene Ranger winger Rieko Ioane, flanker Kara Pryor, lock Ger­ard Cow­ley-Tui­oti also scored tries for the Blues, who had taken their ‘home’ game to the Samoan cap­i­tal.

Reds tight­head prop Taniela Tupou crossed twice, while hooker An­drew Ready and re­place­ment flanker Adam Koczyk also scored for the Aus­tralian side, with fly­half Quade Cooper adding nine points with his boot.

The Blues also had three tries ruled out for var­i­ous in­dis­cre­tions, with two com­ing from for­ward passes while the third, in the fi­nal minute to Akira Ioane, was ruled to have come from an off­side po­si­tion.

The Blues are out of play­off con­tention, de­spite hav­ing the eighthbest points to­tal of 37, while the Reds, who now have 17 with the bonus point, can no longer clinch the Aus­tralian con­fer­ence fol­low­ing the loss.

With their play­offs chances gone, Blues coach Tana Umaga left sev­eral of his front­line play­ers out of the side with an eye on their clash against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions on Wed­nes­day.

The three-times cham­pi­ons, how­ever, barely missed a step against the Reds with an ex­plo­sive be­gin­ning when Ranger and Ioane both crossed in the first six min­utes.

Flanker Pryor also scored in the 28th minute to give the Blues a healthy 17-5 lead.

The Reds man­aged to keep them­selves in the game with tries to prop Tupou and hooker Ready from at­tack­ing li­ne­outs that left the half­time score 20-12 to the Blues.

The Aus­tralian side stormed back as the Blues strug­gled with their han­dling in the hu­mid con­di­tions, with Cooper slot­ting an early penalty be­fore Kor­czyk crashed over for an­other close-range try.

Blues lock Cow­ley-Tui­oti fin­ished off a sweep­ing move­ment as the score see-sawed back and forth be­fore Tupou added his sec­ond try to give the Reds hopes of be­ing the first Aus­tralian side to win over New Zealand op­po­si­tion this sea­son.

Pero­feta, how­ever, touched down for his de­but Su­per Rugby try with six min­utes re­main­ing to end those hopes.

● ACT Brumbies as­sis­tant coach Dan McKel­lar will re­place Stephen Larkham in the head role next sea­son, the team said yes­ter­day.

Larkham had an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that he would leave the Can­berra side at the end of the cam­paign to take up a full-time as­sis­tant coach­ing role with Aus­tralia.

McKel­lar has been at the Brumbies since 2013, and said he was look­ing to bring in new tal­ent to the club.

“We have lots of young tal­ent at the club and are in the process of look­ing to con­sol­i­date our play­ing re­sources for next sea­son,” he said in a team re­lease.

“We are al­ready pre­par­ing for the 2018 sea­son in terms of new ac­qui­si­tions that will help keep the Brumbies at the fore­front of Aus­tralian rugby.” – Reuters

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