Blues Kept Their Title Homes Alive With The Win Against Highlanders

The Blues have defeated the Highlanders 32-21, their first win in Dunedin since 2011. The battle was more even than is reflected on the scoreboard. The Highlanders created many opportunities in the attack in the second half but couldn't capitalise on any of them until the final try in the 76th minute. The Blues have kept their finals hopes strong with that Bonus Point win. 

It took the Blues seven minutes to score their first try after which they added a second try within ten minutes of the first quarter. The Highlanders managed to fight back in the second ten minutes of the game and ended the first quarter down only 10-12.

A disallowed try by the Blues led to a converted penalty for the Highlanders after an infringement by the Blues in their half. This ten-point swing gave the Highlanders the lead for the first time in the match with 13-12. The Blues struck back immediately from the kick-off and scored their third try of the game. A fourth try by the Blues with seconds to go in the first half gave the Blues a deserved lead of 24-16. The lead changed three times as the momentum continued to swing with the early defence of the Blues preventing any successful attacking opportunities by the Highlanders. But the poor discipline of the Blues took its toll and penalties allowed the home side back into the game.

The Blues again struck first in the second half within the first three minutes to extend their lead to 29-16. A converted penalty stretched the Blues lead to 32-16 and it seemed to be game, set and match as the Blues domination just grew as the minutes tick by.

The Highlanders camped in the 22 of the Blues for a good twenty minutes and eventually scored a try with five minutes to go. A good win for the Blues (32-21) with the final try by the Highlanders taking the score to a maybe more fair reflection of the game.

The Highlanders will play the Crusaders while the Blues will have a bye next weekend.

Blues: Tries: Akira Ioane, Finlay Christie (2), TJ Faiane, Ofa Tuungafasi. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2). Penalty: Beauden Barrett
Highlanders: Tries: Ash Dixon, Shannon Frizell. Conversion: Josh Ioane. Penalties: Josh Ioane (3)

Blues: 15. Matt Duffie, 14. Mark Telea, 13. Rieko Ioane, 12. TJ Faiane, 11. Caleb Clarke, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. Finlay Christie; 8. Akira Ioane, 7. Blake Gibson, 6. Dalton Papalii, 5. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu ©, 3. Ofa Tuungafasi, 2. Kurt Eklund, 1. Karl Tu’inukuafe. Replacements: 16. Luteru Tolai, 17. Alex Hodgman, 18. Sione Mafileo, 19. Josh Goodhue, 20. Tony Lamborn, 21. Sam Nock, 22. Otere Black, 23. Harry Plummer.

Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone, 2. Ash Dixon (cc), 3. Jeff Thwaites, 4. Pari Pari Parkinson, 5. Jack Whetton, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Dillon Hunt, 8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 9. Aaron Smith (cc), 10. Josh Ioane, 11. Scott Gregory, 12. Patelesio Tomkinson, 13. Michael Collins, 14. Josh McKay, 15. Mitch Hunt. Replacements: 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.