Super Rugby Pacific: Blues overcome kicking woes to grind out win over NSW Waratahs at Sydney

Stephen Perofeta is tackled against Waratahs.
Stephen Perofeta is tackled against Waratahs. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Blues have ground out a hardfought 12-10 victory over NSW Waratahs at Sydney to get their Super Rugby Pacific campaign back on track.

In a contest that rarely hit great heights, the Auckland side dominated the 20 minutes after halftime to build a winning margin, but had to withstand a late rally to take home the lion's share of competition points.   

The result may have come at a cost, with All Blacks Rieko Ioane (concussion) and captain Dalton Papali'i (ankle) both leaving the field injured.

The Waratahs thought they had struck first, when they stole possession in the Blues half and winger Dylan Pietsch hurtled towards the corner flag, but was pushed into touch by first-five Stephen Perofeta.

Centre Ioane was forced off the field and, as they were seven days earlier, the visitors were forced to rejig their backline early.

From an attacking lineout, Blues hooker Kurt Eklund surged from the maul, but was shunted into touch short of the corner.

After 20 minutes, the scoreless deadlock was finally broken, when the Blues were penalised at the breakdown in their own 22 and Waratahs first-five Tane Edmed slotted the kick at goal. 

Down the other end of the field, Perofeta missed a chance to equalise with a penalty attempt from a handy angle.

From an attacking lineout, Eklund made another bid for the tryline and actually forced the ball, but was called back for obstruction by flanker Akira Ioane.

Finally, the Blues pressure tolled, when prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi powered over from close range and Perofeta converted from in front of the posts.

The Waratahs had a chance to respond from an attacking scrum after the halftime siren, but turned the ball over after 12 phases and the opportunity died. 

Ahead just 7-3 at halftime, the Blues went on the offensive from the restart and Papali'i stormed over from a ruck, but the try was again called back for obstruction. They remained on the frontfoot, but were unable to convert another attacking lineout and eventually turned the ball over at the back of a scrum.

Perofeta botched another kickable penalty to extend their advantage, but they continued to attack and eventually the Waratahs defence ran out of steam, allowing fullback Zarn Sullivan across out wide.  

Blues winger Mark Tela'a struggles to evade the Waratahs defence.
Blues winger Mark Tela'a struggles to evade the Waratahs defence. Photo credit: Getty Images

Perofeta's boot let him down badly again, but the visitors were beyond a converted try in a lowscoring contest. He sliced another penalty from in front of the posts, but made up for his poor kicking with another trysaving tackle on flying winger Tristan Reilly.

The first-five was again in the firing line, when he couldn't handle a bouncing kick close to his line, conceding an attacking lineout, but the Blues forwards held up the maul to turn the ball over.

The home side finally broke the defence for a try to hooker Jay Fonokalafi and Edmed's conversion from near touch brought them within two points inside the final minute, but although they won the kickoff, the Waratahs were penalised at the breakdown and the visitors were allowed to end the game on top.

Victory gives the Blues some momentum to take home next Saturday, when they host the champion Crusaders, hurting badly from four straight losses to start their season. The Waratahs must make the treaded trip to Lautoka to face Fiijian Drua.

Blues 12 (Tu'ungafasi, Sullivan tries; Perofeta conversion) NSW Waratahs 10 (Fonokalafi try; Edmed penalty & conversion)