Super Rugby Pacific: Blues find winning formula to overcome Fijian Drua at humid Lautoka

The Blues have taken advantage of their forward superiority and Beauden Barrett's educated boot for a hard-earned 30-14 Super Rugby win over Fijian Drua at Lautoka.

Wary of the Fiji's parochial home crowd and extreme heat, the Auckland managed to avoid the shock defeat inflicted on the six-time defending champion Crusaders last month, but needed most of the first half to impose their winning tactics.

First-five Barrett finally broke the scoring deadlock with a penalty in the 25th minute, before centre Rieko Ioane grabbed the first try to give the visitors some momentum. When second-five Harry Plummer kicked another penalty from over halfway, they led 13-0 and seemed to have the contest well under control.

Beauden Barrett in action against Fijian Drua
Beauden Barrett in action against Fijian Drua. Photo credit: Getty Images

Drua No.8 Elia Canakaivata powered over to put the hosts on the scoreboard, but Blues lock Cameron Suafoa bounced off several would-be tacklers to restore the advantage, as halftime arrived at 20-7.

The hot and humid conditions made ballhandling difficult, with both sides struggling to find any continuity, but as the match wore on, the Blues dominated at scrums, winning penalties at will and carving off a territory advantage through Barrett's tactical kicking.

Soon after the restart, captain Dalton Papalii was driven over from close ranged to extend the advantage to 20 points, but when Canakaivata had his second try, the Drua were still within two converted tries, forcing Barrett to take a penalty shot at goal to extend beyond reach over the final minutes.

The result sees the Blues sneak past the Crusaders into fourth place on the Super Rugby table, although the southerners can leap into second, if they topple the unbeaten competition-leading Chiefs later on Saturday.

The Blues take on crosstown rials Moana Pasifika next Saturday, while the Drua lie in wait of the Hurricanes, also on Saturday.

Blues 30 (R Ioane, Papalii & Suafoa try; Barrett 2 penalties & 3 conversions, Plummer penalty) Fijian Drua 14 (Canakaivata 2 tries; Tela & Valetini conversions)

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