Blues crush Force 40-14, 1st away win in 2 years
PERTH, Australia (AP) — The Blues won on the road for the first time since 2012 as they blew away the Western Force 40-14 and retained a sniff of the Super Rugby playoffs on Saturday.
In dealing a blow to the Force’s bid for a maiden playoffs berth, the Blues also showed an unexpected resolve in defence.
After killing the game as a contest with four tries in the first 17 minutes, the Blues absorbed everything the Force threw at them. They spent almost 10 minutes inside their 22, but didn’t concede a try until the 65th minute.
By then, the Blues notched their fifth try with 14 men, and led 33-0.
They are in a logjam with the Force and Chiefs, one win outside of the top-six playoffs.
The victory ended the Blues’ run of 13 straight losses away from Auckland, since the last round of the 2012 regular season.
“It was good just to start well,” captain Luke Braid said.
In this one, they were in control within minutes of kickoff, when flyhalf Ihaia West scored the opening try from a fortunate bounce. Prop Charlie Faumuina followed after a chargedown, West then set up fullback Lolagi Visinia, and Ma’a Nonu burst past three defenders for try No. 4 in the 17th minute.
The Force rallied but struggled to make their pressure count. Not until the fourth quarter did hooker Nathan Charles cross from a quick tap penalty. But the Blues replied by driving Braid over the line, and center Pita Ahki scored their sixth try, before the Force finished with a consolation try to Brynard Stander.
Blues 40 (Ihaia West, Charlie Faumuina, Lolagi Visinia, Ma’a Nonu, Luke Braid, Pita Ahki tries; West 5 conversions), Western Force 14 (Nathan Charles, Brynard Stander tries; Jayden Hayward 2 conversions). HT: 26-14.