Lions Scout: Blues and Crusaders on form ahead of Lions encounters
The Blues and Crusaders warmed up for their upcoming fixtures against The British & Irish Lions with narrow victories in round 15 of Super Rugby.
The Blues were in Apia, Samoa, for their encounter with the Reds, earning a 34-29 victory, while the Crusaders edged out the Highlanders 25-22.
Elsewhere the Chiefs powered to a 46-31 win over the Waratahs, while the Hurricanes also saw off Australian opposition, beating the Force 34-12.
All five franchises have a date coming up with the Lions, starting with the Blues on Wednesday and then the Crusaders next Saturday.
So we’re keeping a close eye on how they have been performing with a view to those games.
BLUES STRIKE LATE IN SAMOA
Tana Umaga’s side were in Samoa for their game against the Reds, and they certainly entertained, running in five tries including a crucial late score for 20-year-old Stephen Perofeta.
The Blues had made a flying start, with Rene Ranger and Rieko Ioane going over early to ease them into a 12-0 lead.
The Reds responded with tries from Taniela Tupou and Andrew Ready, either side of Kara Pryor’s try, with Piers Francis adding a penalty to give the side from Auckland a 20-12 half-time lead.
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) June 2, 2017
The comeback continued in the second half, with an Adam Korczyk try and the boot of Quade Cooper putting the Reds in front.
Gerard Cowley-Tuioti put the Blues back ahead, but Tupou hit straight back for his second to set up a grandstand finish.
That was when Perofeta stepped up, popping up after Melani Nanai’s break to get over and give the Blues victory.
They now return to Eden Park for their game against the Lions this coming Wednesday.
CRUSADERS STAY PERFECT THANKS TO HUNT
The Crusaders are now 14 from 14 but they were pushed all the way in a 25-22 win over the Highlanders in Christchurch, needing a Mitchell Hunt drop goal with the final play to snatch victory.
Up against a Highlanders team on a nine-game winning streak, the Crusaders went over for three first-half tries from Mitchell Drummond, Seta Tamanivalu and Heiden Bedwell-Curtis.
— BNZ Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) June 3, 2017
That helped them into a 19-10 lead, Richard Buckman crossing for the sole Highlanders score, but two tries in quick succession from Waisake Naholo appeared to have swung the momentum.
Trailing by three points, the Crusaders levelled matters through a Hunt penalty, and though he missed a second shot for three, he made up for it with a drop goal on the final play of the game from 45 metres out to win it.
It wasn’t all good news for the Crusaders, who lost All Black centre Ryan Crotty to a rib injury, and he will be out for several weeks according to coach Scott Robertson.
CHIEFS CUT LOOSE
James Lowe grabbed a hat-trick and Tawera Kerr-Barlow chipped in with two tries as the Chiefs eased to a 46-31 win over the Waratahs in Hamilton.
The home side scored six tries in all as they warmed up for their game against the Lions in two weeks’ time in style.
They were dominant in the first half, scoring tries through Mitchell Brown and Lowe, and when the latter and Kerr-Barlow crossed early in the second half, the Chiefs led 32-3.
— Chiefs Rugby (@ChiefsRugby) June 3, 2017
The Waratahs responded with tries from Rob Horne and Will Skelton before Kerr-Barlow went over for try number two.
Still the visitors kept coming, scoring two more through Cameron Clarke and then a superb individual score by Sekope Kepu from 50 metres out.
But the Chiefs and Lowe had the final say as he rounded off his hat-trick to seal the win.
HURRICANES BREAK TRY RECORD
The Hurricanes broke the record for the most tries in a single Super Rugby season as they ran in six in a 34-12 win over the Force.
That takes them to 82 tries, one more than the previous record, which they held, and it was a thrilling display in Perth.
— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) June 3, 2017
Ngani Laumape helped them make a flying start, crossing after just two minutes, while Loni Uhila added a second before half-time.
Dane Haylett-Petty got the Force back into it, but Leni Apisai and Vince Aso, the leading try-scorer in Super Rugby, both crossed to wrap up the bonus point for the visitors.
TJ Perenara got number five, before Laumape completed his double after good work from fit-again Nehe Milner-Skudder in the build-up, on a fine afternoon in Western Australia for the Hurricanes.