Auckland end their blues, Rebels tame Lions
The Auckland Blues snapped a woeful losing record downing a 12-man Wellington Hurricanes, while the Melbourne Rebels coasted past the Golden Lions in Super Rugby on Saturday.
The Blues ended a run of 25 straight losses in away games in New Zealand with a 24-15 win over the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Meanwhile in Melbourne, the Rebels broke a run of five losses against the Lions with a bonus-point 37-17 win over the South Africans.
Auckland’s win was their first derby away win in New Zealand since against the Hurricanes in 2013.
The Blues, for so long the under-achievers of New Zealand rugby, had their cause helped by the Hurricanes ill-discipline with prop Tyrel Lomax red-carded early in the second half for a shoulder to the head of Blues fullback Stephen Perofeta.
With 13 minutes to go Vaea Fifita received a yellow card and Jordie Barrett was sin-binned soon after as the ‘Canes record slipped to three wins from five games while the Blues now have four from six.
The Auckland side has unearthed a self-belief after returning victorious from South Africa where they toppled the Northern Bulls and the previously unbeaten Western Stormers in recent weeks.
However, it was hard to see them winning when the Hurricanes produced an explosive start with Ngani Laumape crashing through the Blues first line of defence, Fifita pulled in the remaining defenders leaving Ben Lam to scamper 30 metres to the line.
It was the sort of start that would have seen the Blues of old lose heart. Instead, they produced a huge defensive effort as the Hurricanes controlled most of the first half and then took control as the ‘Canes lost players in the second half.
Captain Patrick Tuipulotu said there is a new determination within the side. “There’s certainly a difference in mood... it’s a good feeling,” he said.
“What I’m most happy with is we managed to keep our composure especially in tough times. Certainly in past years we probably wouldn’t have.”
The Rebels led 15-10 at half-time after getting away to 15-0 inside the opening 30 minutes from tries by Andrew Kellaway and Richard Hardwick.
But yellow cards to Marika Koroibete and Tom English in the final 10 minutes of the half allowed the Lions back into the contest.
Left-winger Jamba Ulengo scored for the Lions six minutes before the break converted by Elton Jantjies, who also landed a penalty goal right on half-time.
The Rebels took charge in the second half with Kellaway completing his third double of the season and a total of seven for the campaign with other tries to Isi Naisarani and Dane Haylett-Petty.
The Lions, who leave Australia for New Zealand losing both their two tour games, had only a converted try by Sithembiso Sithole to show for their second half efforts.
“It was a very good win, really proud of the boys, the main thing was probably the work ethic, we chased everything and showed a lot of heart,” Rebels skipper Dane Haylett-Petty said. “Attack was good, defence was good, we’re building really nicely.”