Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Horror-hoofy - tormented Blues hit the Wall of Shame

Ma'a Nonu of the Blues looks on in disappointment after the final whistle during the round 11 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.
Ma'a Nonu of the Blues looks on in disappointment after the final whistle during the round 11 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.

The Blues created a Wall of Shame entry last night as they fell to an inglorious ninth defeat this season.

Super rugby has become horror-hoofy for the Blues with their latest loss continuing the torment which began after a solitary victory against the Bulls in Pretoria in March.

Since then it has been 56 days of torment and, despite optimistic talk about improvement, the Blues were last night spanked four tries to none by the Hurricanes.

The Blues results chart is scarred, the players are lost and the coaching staff bereft of remedies.

Their next assignment is at Eden Park against the Lions, a side who have struggled to claim just three wins and a draw in the past three seasons. That suggests a result for the Blues but these are vastly different times for the fading franchise.

The first half mirrored the sides' previous encounter at Eden Park. The Hurricanes scored tries and the Blues did their scoreboard dance with penalties.

They began well, clattering into their tackles, keeping the Hurricanes in their half, making their lineouts and earning penalty rulings from referee Jaco Peyper. They were good signs and more promising than the messy concessions the Blues made in their sloppy defeat last round.

Piri Weepu landed four goals in the opening half amidst sounds of displeasure from his former fans.

Once the points were scored, the problems started. The Blues did not deal well with the kickoff receptions and after one mess, Beauden Barrett crosskicked for Cory Jane to bat the ball back to his skipper Conrad Smith for the opening try.

It was an expert piece of timing from Jane who did enough to disrupt George Moala in the air. But that piece of skill was overshadowed by some brilliance begun once more by Jane.

He wedged himself between two Blues attackers to bat the ball down and when TJ Perenara swivelled and eased past several tacklers, Jane had bounced to his feet to continue the counter-attack. He skipped past several diving defenders, drew the final tackler and found Andre Taylor who had scorched up in support to score.

It was magnificent, another classic the pair have conjured up this season and a masterpiece of skill to recall the sort of magic Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga used to conjure.

As the game wore on, the Blues scrum gained ascendancy and created problems for Victor Vito and Perenara in clearing possession.

The lineout was poor with signs of miscommunication again and crooked deliveries also reappearing.

The Blues dodged a bullet after the break. Perenara cleared his head after falling awkwardly in a collision, burst downfield and found Barrett.

The five-eighths pushed his hands past two defenders to feed Julian Savea who battered his way to the line. Referee Peyper called for TMO evidence about the touchdown and on the replay, it was clear Savea's pink boots cut the touchline.

However the bruising left wing smashed in at the same corner minutes later after a series of rucks from the Canes and superb offloads under pressure from Barrett and Smith. The Hurricanes had a nine-point lead with the last quarter left.

Replacement prop Reg Goodes was denied a TMO try from some quite extraordinary buildup by Vito and Perenara, but the halfback nailed a basic try from the resulting scrum.

Benson Stanley had a consolation try after a Rene Ranger breakout before Jason Eaton scored in the final move after a comedy-caper mess as the Blues tried to run a tap mark out from near their line.

Hurricanes 35

Tries C Smith, A Taylor, J Savea, TJ Perenara, J Eaton
Con: B Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 2

Blues 19

Try: B Stanley
Con: L Munro
Pens: P Weepu 4
Half-time: 16-12.

- NZ Herald

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