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TOMORROW MAY 17 MONDAY
The country's wettest place,
Cropp River, inland from
Hokitika, had 440mm of
rain in 24 hours, followed by
another 106mm in the early
hours of the next day. Cropp
River has several metres of
rainfall recorded each year.
TODAY IN HISTORY
Blues hold on for gritty win
The Blues have finished their
week from hell with a morale-
boosting victory over the Bulls
at Eden Park which they will
rightly be very proud of.
It was an ideal way for them to
prove their togetherness in the
wake of continued speculation
over John Kir wan’s coaching
future, but, as has become
traditional for this franchise,
there was also a big downside.
Blues skipper Steven Luatua’s
dislocated shoulder, which forced
him off in the second half, will
probably rule him out for the rest
of the super rugby season.
Already a battered figure this
season, he took the leadership
duties from Jerome Kaino who
was injured a fortnight ago and
the Blues might be forced to look
further afield for a captain after
this latest problem.
“It seems like he’s dislocated it
out and it’s come back in so he’ll
be a while we think,” Kirwan said.
Apart from that, there was
much for a small crowd of about
8000 to cheer about. Wracked by
controversy all week, the players
hung tough and maintained
their remarkable record at their
fortress against a tough, but
slightly limited, Bulls.
“I was proud of the guys,”
Kirwan said. “I thought our
discipline was a bit off in the first
half and they were kicking us
down and mauling, but I was just
really pleased that we hung in the
fight. We knew we needed to play
some field position in the second
half and try to score points and I
thought some of the young guys
really stepped up. ”
George Moala’s try, after a
sustained, clinical build-up, put
the Blues ahead with 12 minutes
remaining and Ihaia West ’s
conversion put the margin past
three points. The breakthrough
came after a fair amount of
pressure from the Bulls, and in
the absence of loose for ward
Luatua — with lock Josh Bekhuis
also flat on his back receiving
It was a good reward, with
Blake Gibson shining as Luatua’s
replacement, and Francis Saili
taking the right option and
spearing a break near the prone
Saili had a chance to score
another which would have sealed
it, but his hands let him down.
However, his spot tackle with two
minutes remaining which earned
his side a penalty was crucial.
The Bulls will rue this as one
which got away and Marcel van
der Mer we might not look back
on the game with fondness. The
Bulls tighthead prop had a try
ruled out in the opening minutes
due to obstruction by Phillip van
der Mer we on Akira Ioane and
was then bamboozled by the
pace and swer ve of Blues fullback
Lolagi Visinia, who went over
Visinia’s team-mates began
to follow his example. Second-
five Moala, after a sketchy start,
bulldozed defenders at will and
even little halfback Jamison
Gibson-Park made gains up the
They looked a chance to score
every time they got into the Bulls
half, but unfortunately for them
the reverse was true too. After
sur viving that early scare when
van der Merwe’s try was ruled
out, there was no doubt about the
one scored by Jan Serfontein, the
second-five going over thanks to
Handre Pollard’s assistance.
Serfontein’s second try came
from a scrum on halfway, and,
while the second-five’s pass to
left wing Bjorn Basson looked
for ward in the build-up, it was
not worth another viewing
according to referee Mike Fraser.
In the end it did not matter.
Blues 23 (Lolagi Visinia,
George Moala tries; Ihaia West
3 pens, 2 cons) beat Bulls 18
( Jan Serfontein 2 tries; Handre
Pollard 2 pens, con). Half-time:
16-13. — NZME
What was shaping as a
showdown between two explosive
attacks might now be a little less
pleasing on the eye.
The Chiefs have suffered a
serious blow ahead of tonight ’s
clash with the Hurricanes in
Wellington, with both Sonny Bill
Williams and James Lowe ruled
out through injury.
The withdrawals will not
only rob fans who have eagerly
awaited the meeting between
super rugby’s top two sides but
also deny the All Blacks selectors
a chance to check out a couple of
key individual battles.
In combination with the
the capital, the Chiefs losing
an outstanding attacking duo
may completely change the
complexion of the match.
Williams was a late scratch for
the third time this season, named
on Thursday in the run-on XV
but suffering a back strain that
is expected to keep him out of
action for only a week.
He will be replaced at second-
five by Anton Lienert-Brown
and, with all due respect to the
New Zealand Under-20s utility,
Ma’a Nonu has gone from facing
a serious rival for his All Blacks
jersey to a man with only 79
minutes to his name this season.
succumbed to a shoulder ailment
that has plagued the wing
throughout the last fortnight,
seeing Bryce Heem promoted
from the bench and Marty
McKenzie brought into the
It is an especially cruel blow for
Lowe, who was looking for ward
to testing himself against a pair
of players he called “the two best
wingers in the world”. Steve
Hansen would have been a keen
obser ver of Lowe’s performance
against Julian Savea and Cory
Jane, given the 22-year-old
has played his way into the All
Blacks frame during a breakout
Instead, an under-powered
Chiefs may wisely decide against
meeting fire with fire, opting to
avoid the strengths of a team
ranked second in the competition
for points and tries scored. That
could see the visitors keep it
tight, play a territory game and
attempt to strangle the life of
their opposition, a fate made
more likely by the forecast.
Wellington has been drenched
all week and the skies show no
sign of drying up ahead of kick-
off, with rain forecast from 6pm
onwards. Speaking earlier in the
week when poor weather looked
inevitable, Chiefs coach Dave
Rennie acknowledged a change
in approach could be required
for his side, and that was before
he was forced to revamp his
“ I think both sides will probably
kick a little bit more than they
would have,” he said. “ We’ve just
little wetter then maybe we’ll be a
bit more direct and tighter.”
for key clash
PICTURE: Getty Images
Blues Ihaia West runs the ball against the Bulls at Eden Park last night.
Reds stun Rebels to post huge win
PICTURE: Getty Images
Queensland Reds Karmichael Hunt attempts to break through the Melbourne Rebels’ defence.
The Queensland Reds have bounced back
from a week of turmoil in style, notching
a big 46-29 bonus-point victory over the
Melbourne Rebels last night.
Seven days on from a demoralising loss to
the Crusaders that brought the franchise’s
awful super rugby season to a flashpoint,
the Reds blew away their conference rivals
with a sizzling five-try second-half to
register just their third win of the year.
With John Connolly back in
Queensland’s coaching box for the first
time since 2000, it was almost like the
dominant Reds of old had returned in front
of 17,993 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
The injection of rookie five-eighth Jake
McIntyre gave Queensland the direction in
attack it has been searching for ever since
the loss of Quade Cooper to injury.
The 21-year-old marked a memorable
super rugby debut with the first of three
tries in a 10-minute stretch that snuffed out
Melbourne’s hopes early in the second half.
The Rebels posted the first two tries of the
match — both through Sefa Naivalu — but
completely went to water as Q ueensland’s
star-studded attack finally clicked and
capitalised on flyhalf Jack Debreczeni’s
In arguably the best half of rugby under
the reign of embattled coach Richard
Graham, the Reds lined up to score with
McIntyre, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Liam
Gill going over while Lachie Turner bagged
All up, Q ueensland put on 40 unanswered
points before two late tries to Dom
Shipperley and Luke Jones restored
some respectability to the scoreboard for
The Reds went into the sheds behind
17-11 despite, much like last week in
Christchurch, seeing plenty of early
Naivalu’s stunning first try came just
five minutes in, the winger receiving
the ball on his side’s defensive 22m line
and then flashing past the Reds’ helpless
Cutting inside McIntyre, Naivalu touched
down under the posts to allow Mike Harris
the easiest of conversions.
The Rebels made something out of
nothing in the 32nd minute for Naivalu’s
Debreczeni collected the ball after a failed
Reds midfield and spotted Mitch Inman on
the move to his right.
Inman steadied and then unleashed
a flying Naivalu, who again left his
Queensland markers for dead.
But the Reds struck back four minutes
from the break through Rob Simmons to
reduce the margin, and then ran away with
the match when they returned.
Graham said he was delighted with his
team’s comprehensive response to the “ kick
in the backside” that was the loss to the
“The natural instinct is you fight and I
thought the group did that really well (last
night),” he said.
“The group have worked for six months, I
suppose, and I think we’ve always said if we
kept working hard and believe in the things
you’re doing, you get a result.
“It’s a been long time coming.”
Rebels coach Tony McGahan said there
was little his side could do once a hungry
Reds outfit got a roll on.
“I don’t know what went on there this
week but certainly that was always coming,”
“Nobody likes to be criticised — they ’re a
proud club, a proud organisation and they
were always going to come out and play
well, especially in a local derby.
“They got everything they deser ved.”
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