Blues claim bonus point win over Cheetahs
Sportal.co.nz 22 Mar 2014 Getty Images
First five-eighths Simon Hickey continued his impressive start in Investec Super Rugby with 20 points from his boot.
Second five-eighths Jackson Willison had a superb first half, his only blemish being an uncharacteristic dropped ball close to his own line, however, he recovered his poise and the ball was cleared. But in setting up play he had a significant hand in all the Blues tries. His kicking for land especially was productive and he gained good ground to put pressure on the Cheetahs defences.
But the Blues lost their way in the third quarter and while their defence was strong to contain some powerful Cheetahs moves, both through their dangerous backline, and from their efforts at lineout drives, the attack lacked the sharpness that had been evident in the first half.
The Cheetahs had their reward in the 59th minute when from a rare solid scrum, they created the base for fullback Willie le Roux to create the space for wing Cornal Hendricks to tie up the defence by working them inside and out on a 40m break for the line.
The Blues responded immediately with prop Tony Woodcock driving over for the bonus point try, but then a tackling miss by replacement second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu saw centre Johann Sadie get through and set wing Hennie Daniller in for the try that got the Cheetahs back to 30-37 down.
However, four minutes later in the 71st minute a pressure penalty goal by Hickey took the Blues out to a 10-point lead.
Earlier, a nothing kick in defence by le Roux was secured by the Blues and spun for Willison to kick to touch deep in the Cheetahs 22m area.
The Cheetahs failed to secure the ball in the short lineout they called and Blues hooker James Parsons tidied and drove hard forward. The ball came back and No.8 Peter Saili went close to driving over before blindside flanker Stephen Luatua scored handy to the posts.
Four minutes later the Cheetahs replied from their second attempt at a lineout maul and it was flanker Boom Pinsloo who crossed.
Hickey landed his third penalty goal in the 28th minute and from the re-start halfback Piri Weepu put a kick into the box which the Cheetahs allowed to bounce. Flanker Luke Braid was on it in a flash and inter-passed with Luatua before Willison and Hickey carried play up to the line where centre George Moala was ruled to have grounded the ball.
Moments later the Cheetahs, still down to 14 men, failed to secure another ball and the Blues moved it quickly with Willison putting another long grubber kick downfield. De Kock looked to have it covered, but was beaten by the bounce and Willison picked it up to feed wing Tevita Li in for the try.
Blues 40 (Stephen Luatua, George Moala, Tevita Li, Tony Woodcock tries; Simon Hickey 4 con, 4 pen) Cheetahs 30 (Boom Prinsloo, Cornal Hendricks, Hennie Daniller tries; Johan Goosen con, 2 pen; Elgar Watts 2 con, pen ). HT: 30-16
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