Winger Matt Duffie scored two of five second-half tries as the Auckland Blues overwhelmed the South Africa-based Bulls 38-14 in their Super Rugby match yesterday, while the Otago Highlanders came from behind to down the ACT Brumbies and keep New Zealand-based teams undefeated except in local derbies.
Duffie touched down twice within 10 minutes at the start of the second half as the Blues overcame a disorganized first half performance to win by six tries to two.
The match at Eden Park snapped the Blues’ three-game losing streak, but still left little doubt the Tana Umaga-coached team is the weakest of New Zealand’s five Super Rugby sides. The Blues have had three matches this season against New Zealand opponents and have lost them all.
The game turned in the Blues’ favor in the second half when they lost their structure. Without the need to build from set pieces, but instead to create play from Bulls’ turnovers, the Blues were far more effective and scored five tries after halftime.
“We were really happy with the first half, to be honest,” Blues captain James Parsons said. “We felt we really had them on the edge and we managed to keep our game going and got the rewards at the end.”
After a single first-half try scored after three minutes by scrumhalf Augustine Pulu, the Blues found themselves still on even terms at halftime, with the Bulls scoring through prop Lizo Gqoboka.
Duffie’s tries in the 45th and 54th minutes unleashed a torrent of scoring by the Blues in the second spell. Replacements Ihaia West and Matt Moulds and winger Melani Nanai also scored tries as the Blues opened a 38-7 lead before the Bulls scored a consolation try after the final hooter to scrumhalf Rudy Paige.
“I think in the first half we played a little more towards the way we wanted,” Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss said. “We held the ball, but still had to defend an awful lot.”
“The second half we just couldn’t build pressure, we just lost the ball after one or two phases in their territory and you can’t defend for 80 minutes against the Blues,” he said.
In Canberra, the Highlanders stayed patient against a fired-up Brumbies side before scoring a late try and staving off a ferocious assault on their line to eke out an 18-13 win.
Trailing for most of a match that made up for a lack of quality with plenty of commitment, replacement Highlanders prop Aki Seiuli barreled over under the posts in the 73rd minute for a converted try that proved to be the difference.
The Brumbies turned to their favorite attacking ploy, the driving maul off a line-out, in a frantic finale, but the visitors held firm on three occasions to either draw a penalty or force a turnover to keep their lead intact.
The Highlanders are the bottom team in the New Zealand Conference, while the Brumbies are atop the Australian Conference.
In Singapore, the Japan-based Sunwolves narrowly missed out on a rare win, losing 44-31 to the South Africa-based Stormers.
Additional reporting by Staff writer and Reuters
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there
HOTSHOT: Luis Suarez scored his 194th goal for Barca, tying him with Ladislao Kubala as the club’s third-highest scorer, behind Cesar Rodriguez and Lionel Messi With another decisive penalty from Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid on Sunday extended their perfect run after the COVID-19 suspension and moved closer to their first Spanish title in three years. Ramos scored his fifth goal since the season resumed as Madrid defeated Athletic Bilbao 1-0 to maintain a four-point lead over Barcelona, who beat fifth-placed Villarreal 4-1. Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were among the scorers for Barcelona after assists from Lionel Messi. Ramos converted a 73rd-minute penalty to give Madrid their seventh straight victory and they remain the only team with a perfect record since La Liga resumed. “These three points are very