Blues brush Reds in Samoan stunner

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

A terrible 10 minutes has cost the Reds a heroic victory in Samoa, as they fell 34-29 to the Blues.

Queensland's finals hopes were quashed last week and that meant they were simply playing for pride tonight.

Maybe that's what they should have been playing for all season, as they fought back tonight in a fashion not yet seen by this team in 2017.

Nick Stiles backed his young guns to perform and they did just that.The Blues were a touch too strong for a resilient Reds side. Photo: Getty ImagesTaniela Tupou scored a double and put his hand up for run after run, Izack Rodda was similarly powerful with ball in hand, Andrew Ready made his presence known at the breakdown and James Tuttle controlled proceedings with more aplomb than Nick Frisby has all year.

Scott Higginbotham was enormous in another audition for a starting spot in Michael Cheika's backrow next weekend and Karmichael Hunt was similarly defiant.

But the Reds will rue the first 10 minutes of the match, which was as bad a patch of play as this subpar outfit has produced all season.

There wasn't a trace of line speed and the attempted tackles provided little more resistance than your average turnstile.

The Blues may be the worst team in New Zealand but they deserve far more respect than that and they made the Reds pay, scoring two tries inside 10 minutes to open up a 12-0 lead and shock the visitors into action.

There wasn't much substance in the Reds' performance tonight. Photo: Getty ImagesRene Ranger's opener three minutes in was preceded by a comedy of errors.

The Reds turned the ball over from the very first ruck but looked to have got out of jail when Blues flyhalf Piers Francis threw a forward pass.

That thought was quickly erased when Andrew Ready kicked the ball to the back of the feet of Steven Luatua at the ensuing scrum and Ranger scored three phases later.

Auckland were in again four minutes later through Rieko Ioane, this time the Reds simply watching passively as the Blues spread the ball cross field and ran 50 metres to score.

It looked as though 80 points may be scored at that point but the Reds finally won some ball and with 15 minutes on the clock, Tupou set himself low and drove his way over the line for Queensland's first.

Kara Pryor impressed for the Blues. Photo: Getty ImagesThey then gifted the Blues a rolling maul try when the forwards drove through the wrong lane, opening the try line up for Kara Pryor.

The defensive effort lifted from that point forward and after working their way to some more positive territory, Ready fell over the line at the back of a rolling maul to bring the score to 20-12 at the break.

Whatever Nick Stiles told his troops at half-time immediately paid dividends in the second term.

A Quade Cooper penalty put his team within a try and Adam Korczyk scored that try six minutes later, giving the Reds their first lead of the night at 22-20 with 29 minutes still to play.

It must be said that the Blues left plenty of ball behind in the second term but the Reds capitalised, putting the crowd favourites under pressure.

Auckland finally put together a string of passes with 20 to play and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti found his way over under the posts, putting his side back in front.

Tupou immediately put the Reds ahead once again two minutes later with his second but the Blues had the last laugh.

Stephen Perofeta was on the end of a line break launched from within their own half and it was enough for the Blues, as they finished in front 34-29.

It was a bad night on the injury front - for both the Reds and Wallabies.

Samu Kerevi left the field early in the first half with a left ankle injury and Lukhan Tui was using his jersey as an arm sling when he left the field early in the second term.

RESULT

Blues 34

Tries: Ranger, R Ioane, Pryor, Cowley-Tuioti, Perofeta

Cons: Francis 2, Perofeta

Pens: Francis

Reds 29

Tries: Tupou 2, Ready, Korczyk

Cons: Cooper 3

Pens: Cooper

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