theblues.co.nz 19.Mar.2013Getty Images
The teams would have been forgiven to think they were playing in Apia, not Waitemata, as a 2,500-strong crowd were hugely vocal in supporting the visiting Samoa A team.
And that support must have got Samoa fired up, as they opened the scoring in just the fifth minute.
Samoa had kicked for a line-out on the back of a Blues penalty and a miss-pass from halfback Faatalasemataeemo Fagasoaia was a blessing in disguise.
Flanker Falemiga Selesele collected the ball from the pitch and darted through several defenders on his way to the try line.
The Blues got into their work from the ensuing kick-off and in handy position from a line out they crafted a solid rolling maul that steamed away to the try line.
Their effort crossed the try-line but was held up, and just three phases off the scrum, hooker Gafatasti Su’a burrowed over to even the ledger.
Possession see-sawed throughout the mid part of the first half, the Blues were able to create a number of attacking opportunities but more often than not they were thwarted by poor handling in the backline.
They did get it right late in the half, from a midfield scrum a break was made down the right hand touch and Waisake Naholo dotted down to secure a 14-7 lead.
Samoa A narrowed that lead with a James Sooialo penalty minutes before the break and they looked to grab the lead just on half-time when a drive at the line went over – but referee Nick Briant ruled it held up.
Samoa opened the second half with Sooialo penalty, closing the deficit to 14-13 and then went about exerting all sorts of pressure on the Blues.
With rushing defence and hard work at the break down they forced a number of errors and penalties – Sooialo missing a chance to take the lead in the 50th minute as his kick at goal fell clear.
The Blues defence was strong, a number of Samoa breaks were quelled with solid covering defence but on the other hand the home team could not make anything work on attack.
Samoa A finally reclaimed the lead mid way through the second half with a penalty, which the Blues took back with a penalty of their own with just 10 minutes to play.
The Blues exerted a lot of pressure in the closing 10 minutes but everything they threw at the Samoans was repelled.
Sooialo missed a penalty with minutes to play and when the Blues were penalised with time up on the clock the kicking duties were handed to first five-eighths Ki Anufe.
Anufe made no mistake, slotting the penalty and securing the 19-17 win, much to the delight of the boisterous crowd. Blues Development coach Bevan Cadwallader said his team was unable to match the energy of Samoa.
“We were out-passioned by a high energy team. They made their own luck and really forced us to make uncharacteristic errors.
“It is a hugely disappointing result, we were inaccurate and lacked internal discipline – we will have to put things right this weekend,” said Cadwallader.