Blues inflict more pain on Highlanders
April 5, 2013
Piri Weepu's (r) second-half double put the Highlanders to the sword
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Blues scrum-half Piri Weepu scored two late tries in a 29-18 win over the Highlanders at Eden Park which consigned the southern side to a sixth straight loss this Super Rugby season.
Up 13-12 at half-time, the Highlanders fell away late, gifting the Blues a third win which ends their own slump of three successive defeats.
Weepu was at the heart of victory, outplaying error-prone counterpart and fellow All Blacks half-back Aaron Smith in a game where countless handling errors mirrored the recent fortunes of both teams.
The Blues scored four tries to two to improve their home record against the Highlanders to nine wins from 11 meetings.
Their first two tries, to flanker Steven Luatua and prop Angus Taavao-Matau were scored while Highlanders inside centre Ma'a Nonu was in the sinbin for a blatant shoulder charge on Weepu in the 19th minute.
Piri Weepu (r) was in outstanding form for the Blues (Australia only)
The Blues defended for much of the 20 minutes after half-time, struggling at scrum time and down one man when winger George Moala was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on opposite number Buxton Popoali'i which saw the Highlanders player taken from the field on a stretcher.
Moala was cited for a dangerous tackle after the match and received a one-week ban, putting him out of his side's clash against the Hurricanes next Saturday.
However, they found a second wind and a slick move featuring several offloads was finished by Weepu in the 60th minute. Phil Burleigh responded soon afterwards courtesy of a break from fellow-Highlanders reserve Fumiaki Tanaka to reduce the lead to one point.
However, a penalty to Blues five-eighth Chris Noakes was followed by Weepu's second try after he backed up charging centre Rene Ranger, who was a handful all night.
The Highlanders' losing streak now stands at nine. They haven't won since last May, when they downed the Blues at Eden Park.