Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Rugby: Ioane brothers star as Blues break Sydney drought

Blues 40 Waratahs 33

It's maybe no surprise the Blues won in Sydney, but it certainly was a little shocking how easily they did it.

Australian rugby is going through a bad patch, but even so, the Blues hadn't won away against the Waratahs since 2003. So the expectation, especially with constant drizzle in Sydney, was that the game would be close. A tight, bruising affair with one mistake likely to be the difference.

Didn't happen anything like that. The Blues owned the ball for the first 40 minutes and killed the contest before half time.

They dominated territory and every aspect of the game. They scrummed the Waratahs off the ball, found holes and made holes.

No one did more than Rieko Ioane who again showed why he's the most exciting talent in the country. He obviously likes playing in Australia as he opened the season with a hat-trick in Melbourne and scored another two in Sydney.

In scoring both he showed his phenomenal power, acceleration and awareness. There probably wasn't much on either time he scored, but he made his opportunities with his key strengths.

He shoved off the first defender, used his footwork and before the Waratahs knew what was happening, Ioane had scored.

And yet, for all that he did with the ball, it was his defence that shone. He made some crucial tackles under pressure and three times he managed to hold big men off the ground and win his side the turnover.

For the first time this season his big brother Akira wasn't so far behind, scoring himself, but impressing more with his appetite for hard work and desire to stay in the contest.

If he can deliver a couple more games of this nature then he might just sneak back into the All Blacks' reckoning given the injury list gets ever longer at loose forward.

Strangely, though, as easily as the Blues won, they won't be super content with the way things went. They didn't pick up the bonus point.

The Waratahs have to take some of the credit for that - they were greatly improved in the second half, but the Blues allowed them to be.

They lost some of their accuracy and composure in the second 40. Maybe they thought the job was done and that they were playing out for time.

At 26-0 up at the break they kind of were, but still the Blues shouldn't have been as loose as they were in the second period.

They owed their dominance to the fact they had an edge in everything they did in the first half. They were accurate and disciplined and each visit to the Waratahs half led to them scoring points.

And when they didn't have the ball, they exerted so much pressure with their defence that the home side were reduced to some frantic, ugly stuff.

The Waratahs barely posed a threat - making it into the Blues 22 once in 40 minutes.

It wasn't a great last period from the Blues but the important thing is they remain in the hunt for a playoff spot and if they can find consistency in their execution, they might just make it.

Blues 40 (R. Ioane (2), S. Scrafton, A. Ioane tries; P. Francis 4 pens, 2 cons)
Waratahs 33 (I. Folau (2), T. Latu, B. Foley, P.Ryan tries; Foley 4 cons)

- NZ Herald

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