Blues masterclass too much for wayward Reds
May 2, 2014
Lolagi Visinia of the Blues is tackled by Anthony Fainga'a of the Reds
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Blues midfield maestro Ma'a Nonu orchestrated a comprehensive 44-14 bonus-try Super Rugby win over Queensland on Friday at Eden Park in Auckland. The Blues, last in the New Zealand conference, scored two first-half tries to lead 20-0 at the break then extended that to 34-0 with two quick tries 10 minutes after the restart.
The Reds restored some respectability with two second-half tries, but had little chance of conjuring a win after conceding so many unanswered points, and crashed to their fourth defeat on end. All Blacks centre Nonu was at his best, swinging the ball wide, attacking the line or nudging a kick ahead, and featured in the build-up to four of the Blues' five tries.
The first came as the half-hour mark ticked over, Nonu shifting the ball wide for winger Lolagi Visinia to burst clear down the touchline before flicking an inside pass for centre Jackson Willison to score. Three minutes later, the Reds were down to 14 men after prop James Slipper was binned for a dangerous tackle on Peter Saili.
The Blues made the most of their advantage. With his team hot on attack, Nonu slipped a grubber kick in behind the Reds' defensive line, Visinia ran onto it and the Blues went into the break with a 20-0 lead. It took barely two minutes after the restart before they added a third, fullback Charles Piutau making the initial break before a quick recycle and Nonu's speedy hands gave halfback Bryn Hall the time and space to touch down.
The bonus try came at 50 minutes, a superb team effort which ended with Visinia attacking the line before popping the ball for lock Tom Donnelly to barrel over. Barely a minute later, the Blues were reduced to 14 men. Prop Tony Woodcock was binned for punching, and the Reds responded almost immediately.
Ben Daley powered across to score off the back of a rolling maul before the Blues regrouped to defend their line until hardworking Reds skipper James Horwill crashed across with 15 minutes to go. But that was all the visitors could manage, young first-five Ihaia West rounding off a comprehensive Blues win with a 50m dash to the line after a Piutau intercept.
Ma'a Nonu too good, leading the Blues to a comprehensive victory