Rugby: Brett earns Blues late draw

Force 22
Blues 22

Kevin Mealamu talks to his players during the round four Super Rugby match between the Western Force and the Blues. Photo /Getty Images.
Kevin Mealamu talks to his players during the round four Super Rugby match between the Western Force and the Blues. Photo /Getty Images.

Replacement first five-eighth Stephen Brett kicked a 40-metre penalty with time up on the clock to earn the Blues a 22-22 draw with the Western Force in their Super 15 rugby match in Perth early this morning (NZT).

Brett kept his cool to slot the penalty and deny the Force victory after they had dominated the match and shown steely resolve to weather a late Blues surge.

The Blues themselves displayed strong character top battle back from 22-12 down with four minutes left to share the spoils with an injury-depleted home side.

The visitors, who had the chance to top the New Zealand conference standings with a win, had been fancied to beat the winless Force despite travelling from South Africa after beating the Lions last weekend.

Blues first five-eighth Luke McAlister missed two kickable penalties in the opening six minutes, but his opposite James O'Connor made no such mistake when presented with the chance and the hosts led 6-0 after 15 minutes.

McAlister found his kicking boots to level the scores, and the pair traded penalties before the mercurial O'Connor conjured up a try just before the break. The 20-year-old regathered his own chip to send lock Sam Wykes crashing over. But the video referee denied the try, ruling Isaia Toeava and Chris Lowrey had done enough to hold the Wykes up.

More gallant goal-line defence from Jerome Kaino denied centre Nick Cummins but when the ball eventually swept its way across the other side of the field there was no-one to deny Cummins at the second time of asking.

It gave the hosts a deserved 16-9 lead at the interval.

O'Connor's defensive qualities were on show shortly after the resumption when Toeava looked set to send Joe Rococoko over in the corner when the Australian international knocked the ball from his grasp in the tackle.

O'Connor added two more penalties and McAlister added one of his own before the barnstorming finish.

Inspirational Blues skipper Keven Mealamu drove over with four minutes left after Force replacement flanker Jono Jenkins had been sinbinned a minute earlier.

Brett added the extras before he stepped up again moments later to repeat the dose to silence the home crowd and ensure the Force remained winless.

The Blues had to do without lock Ali Williams who was forced from the field with a hamstring injury after 17 minutes.

- NZPA

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