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Blues hold off Rebels at Eden Park

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/04/2016

Sean McMahon of the Rebels makes a run. © AAP Image/David Rowland Sean McMahon of the Rebels makes a run. The Blues have held off a late onslaught from the Melbourne Rebels to win 36-30 in Auckland and underline the trans-Tasman balance of power in Super Rugby.

Trailing by 18 points with 15 minutes remaining, the Rebels threatened a remarkable comeback with rapid tries to flanker Colby Fainga'a and winger Sefa Naivalu, the latter an opportunistic effort from 95m out.

However, their hopes ended when a lineout drive inching towards the Blues' tryline was penalised for a technical infringement in the 79th minute.

It was yet another win for a New Zealand team over Australian opposition this season.

Despite the result, the Blues remain fifth and last in the powerful New Zealand conference while the Rebels' bonus point could yet see them remain top of the Australian conference by the end of round 10.

George Moala of the Blues is challenged by James Hanson, left, and Toby Smith of the Rebels. © AAP Image/ David Rowland George Moala of the Blues is challenged by James Hanson, left, and Toby Smith of the Rebels. The home side scored six tries to four to notch their fourth win from eight games, boasting a superior set piece and greater attacking threats across the park.

Their real superiority at Eden Park was a stauncher defensive line, with the Rebels guilty of 19 missed tackles in the first half alone.

That allowed the Blues, who trailed 8-0 following Reece Hodge's try, to manufacture tries to forwards James Parsons, Jerome Kaino and the impressive Charlie Faumuina during a purple patch midway through the first spell.

First five-eighth Ihaia West, who had an off-night with his goalkicking, also crossed although Rebels flanker Jordy Reid scored on the stroke of halftime, reducing their deficit to 24-18.

Fullback Lolagi Visinia set up a try soon after halftime to wing Tevita Li with his quick hands and then waltzed past three Rebels defenders to score himself to push the hosts 36-18 clear.

It was the best attacking performance of the year from a Blues side who had averaged just over two tries per game.

They now prepare for an offshore stint, starting with the Kings in Port Elizabeth next week, while the Rebels have a bye.

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