By Jim Birchall
After another forgettable start to Super Rugby season, Tana Umaga’s embattled Blues have extended the misery for Australian teams in trans-Tasman derbies.
Playing at the unfamiliar surrounds of Brookvale oval in the NRL stronghold of Manly, the Auckland based side put in a gritty, determined performance to topple a scrappy Waratahs side, who would have fancied their chances of halting the 37 game slide of Australian teams against New Zealand opposition.
The Blues, buoyed by the return of double world cup winning talisman Jerome Kaino, as well as skipper Augustine Pulu, showed much-anticipated resolve, amongst attacking raids from the Sydneysiders late in the game.
A promising start, courtesy of star wing cum midfielder Reiko Ioane had the blues 7-0 up 12 minutes in. The score could have doubled as Ioane set off on an 80-metre dash from a Waratah’s fumble, but he was surprisingly hauled in just short of the line by speedy wing Cameron Clark.
The Waratahs hit back from a try to hooker Damian Fitzpatrick, before Blues wing Tumua Manu grabbed one back, going over in the corner after some nice skill from Matt Duffie.
The third quarter of the game had the Blues standing firm against repeated raids. Experienced heads Kaino, Patrick Tuipulotu, and Akira Ioane provided the muscle to nullify the Warratahs ruck and maul endeavors.
This played dividends, with the Blues edging ahead via two penalties from the steady Stephen Perofeta.
The Blues next assignment is another tough one, lining up against the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Friday.