Kai Schwoerer/Getty Pictures
The Blues maintained their outdoors probability of claiming New Zealand’s Tremendous Rugby Aotearoa title with a 32-21 victory over a hard-finishing Highlanders in Dunedin Sunday.
They led 32-16 after 55 minutes after which produced a gritty defence to carry off the determined Highlanders who managed the ultimate quarter and threw all the things on the guests.
Blues captain Paddy Tuipulotu summed up the sport as “an actual nail-biter” and rated it as one in every of his aspect’s finest performances of their late cost for the championship.
“I feel it was. Coming right down to the final 5 minutes it was actually shut points-wise,” he stated.
“We needed to dig in deep with our D (defence) and it was good for us to hold our hat on the D and get the win.”
However after disposing of the Highlanders, the Blues now want the Otago membership to do them a favour and beat the table-topping Crusaders subsequent weekend.
A Crusaders win will give them the title with every week to spare, however an upset Highlanders victory will arrange a final-round decider between the Blues and Crusaders at Eden Park.
Following the bonus-point victory in opposition to the Highlanders the Blues path the Crusaders by two factors though they’ve a bye subsequent weekend.
In opposition to the Highlanders they scored 4 tries within the first half and have been left pissed off when denied a fifth after Dalton Papalii galloped 70 metres to the try-line from an intercept.
The attempt was disallowed after the referee dominated a inclined Karl Tu’inukuafe impeded play when Highlanders scrumhalf Aaron Smith tripped over him because the Highlanders scrambled to retain possession earlier than the intercept.
The Blues produced a rollicking begin with tries to standout backrower Akira Ioane and Finlay Christie within the opening 10 minutes.
As soon as the Highlanders settled they gained momentum by way of a Josh Ioane penalty after which a transformed attempt to Ash Dixon off a lineout drive.
A second Ioane penalty put the Highlanders forward 13-12 though it was to be a short-lived lead.
Two minutes later a Tu’inukuafe turnover resulted in a attempt to TJ Faiane and after a 3rd Ioane penalty, Ofa Tuungafasi crashed over on the stroke of half-time.
The Blues stretched the lead within the third quarter with a second attempt to scrumhalf Christie and a Barrett penalty.
The Highlanders have a status for producing an enormous end as they did of their final match after they trailed the Chiefs 24-Zero at one stage earlier than storming dwelling to win 33-31.
However there was to be no fairytale ending this time.
They have been camped deep in Blues territory for a lot of the last quarter however managed just one attempt to Shannon Frizell.
Highlanders 21 (16)
Tries: Ash Dixon, Shannon Frizell
Conversions: Josh Ioane
Penalties: Ioane (three)
Blues 32 (24)
Tries: Akira Ioane, Finlay Christie (2), TJ Faiane, Ofa Tu’ungafasi
Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2)
15 Mitch Hunt, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Scott Gregory, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, eight Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Shannon Frizell, 6 Dillon Hunt, 5 Jack Whetton, four Pari Pari Parkinson, three Jeff Thwaites, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ayden Johnstone
Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Jona Nareki.
15 Matt Duffie, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, eight Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, four Patrick Tuipulotu (c), three Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Substitutes: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Otere Black, 23 Harry Plummer.