Super Rugby Pacific: Stephen Perofeta shines but Blues underwhelm in victory over Western Force at Eden Park

A severely weakened Blues side have secured a 30-17 Super Rugby Pacific victory over Western Force, but failed to secure a bonus point at Auckland's Eden Park.

Led by Stephen Perofeta, who put in an impressive display in the No.10 jersey in the absence of Beauden Barrett, they scored four tries, but conceded three to miss out on the extra point.

Moving from fullback to first-five, Perofeta assisted one try and kicked 10 points to steer his side to a vital win, without most of their All Blacks. 

Mark Telea against Western Force.
Mark Telea against Western Force. Photo credit: Getty Images

The second-string line-up took their time to get going in the first half. Two Perofeta penalties put the Blues up 6-0, before winger Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens ended the wait for a try on the half-hour mark.

Playing deep inside the Force 22, a Perofeta crossfield kick saw Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens beat former Chiefs and Hurricanes fullback Chase Tiatia in the air to ground the ball.

Three minutes later, prop Ofa Tuungafasi - one of few All Blacks to feature - crossed for a second, as the Blues went 18-0 up.

Tiatia atoned for his error to give the Force their first try, kicking through the line for captain Michael Wells to score, despite shades of offside from the chasing skipper.

In the second half, Mark Telea continued to press his case for a spot in Ian Foster's All Blacks plans, grabbing the Blues' third try, after quick hands from Bryce Heem.

The Force hit back through former Chiefs and Counties Manukau winger Toni Pulu, who touched down on the left, but the Blues opened up a 20-point lead, when Ricky Riccitelli grabbed his side's fourth.

From 30-10 up, the home side couldn't add the final touch, as regular errors crept in to leave Leon MacDonald's side searching for a bonus point.

Those hopes were ended in the final 10 minutes, when winger Zach Kibirigie sliced through for the Force's third try and left the Blues needing to score twice with time ticking away, which they were unable to do.

Victory moves the Blues into fourth on the competition ladder, ahead of the Crusaders on points differential. 

Importantly, they can bring back their All Blacks for next week's vital clash, away to the tabletopping Chiefs at Hamilton. 

Blues 30 (Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Tuungafasi, Telea & Riccitelli tries; Perofeta 2 conversions, Perofeta 2 penalties) Western Force 17 (Wells, Pulu & Kibirigie tries; Stewart conversion)

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