Blues beat Cheetahs 40-30 in Super Rugby
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — A refereeing decision that seemed to be lost in translation helped the Auckland-based Blues to a 40-30 win over South Africa’s Cheetahs in Super Rugby on Saturday.
The Blues were leading 16-13 when center George Moala stretched for the goal line in the 29th minute after his bid to score initially appeared to have been stopped short.
Argentina referee Francisco Pastrana referred the decision on the try to New Zealand television referee Glenn Newman, asking whether a double movement had occurred.
Newman responded with a long, technical reply which indicated the try should be disallowed, but Pastrana struggled to understand him and mistakenly awarded the try to the Blues.
The error was decisive in a match decided by a single try: the Blues took a bonus point from their four tries to three win to move into second place behind the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.
Referee Pastrana began the game with a flurry of penalties and the score mounted in three-point increments until the 15th minute when flanker Steven Luatua scored the Blues first try. That score was almost immediately negated by a try to Cheetahs flanker Boom Prinsloo which left the teams locked at 13-13.
A penalty to flyhalf Simon Hickey and the mistakenly-awarded ty to Moala gave the Blues the comfort of a 23-13 lead and allowed them to relax into the match after a frenetic and disorganized beginning.
Winger Tevita Li then scored a try that allowed the Blues to take a commanding 30-16 lead to halftime.
The Cheetahs never gave up and continued to play a wide-passing game which made them susceptible to handling errors and the depridations of a targeted defense. They were still able to close to 30-23 with a try to Cornal Hendricks and to 37-30 with another to Hennie Deniller before the Blues took the match away from them.
Hickey finished with 20 points from four conversions and four penalties.
The Blues may have taken some small satisfaction from a four-try bonus point but there was little else in the match to support any growth in confidence. Their attacking play lacked structure and organisation and their defense was easily broken down.
“I think we played good in patches but to the Cheetahs’ credit there was only one try in it,” Blues captain Luke Braid said. “We’ll probably just have to work on keeping our foot on the throat.
“The boys got into their work. We’ve probably been guilty of being a bit soft in the last couple of weeks over in Africa. We had another African team so we really had to front up tonight.
The Cheetahs ended a four-match tour of Australia and New Zealand without a win but played with spirit Saturday and may be able to regroup after a bye in the next round.
“I think we played better rugby than we have on tour in the previous three games,” Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss said. “But there were still a couple of soft moments when we just gave them tries and against the Blues that will kill you.”
Blues 40 (Steven Luatua, George Moala, Tevita Li, Tony Woodcock tries; Simon Hickey 4 conversions, 4 penalties), Cheetahs 30 (Boom Prinsloo, Cornal Hendricks, Hennie Daniller tries; Johan Goosen conversion, 2 penalties; Elgar Watts 2 conversions, penalty). HT: 30-16.