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Blues hold off spirited Jaguares

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/04/2016
The home side scored both of their tries in the first half before relying on the boot of first five-eighth Ihaia West. © AAP/Ross Setford The home side scored both of their tries in the first half before relying on the boot of first five-eighth Ihaia West.

The Blues have done enough to beat a depleted Jaguares 24-16 in an untidy Super Rugby match in Auckland.

The home side scored both of their tries in the first half before relying on the boot of first five-eighth Ihaia West, who collected 19 points, to keep their nose in front at QBE Stadium in Albany on Saturday.

Playing their first game in New Zealand, the Argentines made much of the play in the first spell and scored the only second-half try through reserve halfback Gonzalo Bertranou but they couldn't prevent a fourth straight loss.

The Jaguares' cause wasn't helped by fielding a weakened team, choosing to leave 10 of their top players at home to rest, comprising mainly of Pumas internationals such as their inspirational captain Agustin Creevy.

The Blues, who hadn't won since the opening round, capitalised with a stuttering performance to lift their record to two wins, a draw and two losses. They remain the last-placed team in the powerful New Zealand conference.

Early ill-discipline from the Blues proved costly.

Jaguares first five-eighth Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias kick two penalties and the Blues were reduced to 14 men when winger Tevita Li was shown a yellow card after referee Mike Fraser had issued a team warning for repeated infringements.

It seemed to galvanise the home side, who set up a slick try to No.8 Steven Luatua off a brilliant pass from hooker James Parsons, standing in as captain for the injured Jerome Kaino.

The Blues powered 15-6 ahead by the break thanks to the first of four penalties to West and the conversion of his own try, set up by a freakish Rene Ranger offload.

Iglesias and West traded penalties throughout a second half which lacked fluency.

Blues prop Nic Mayhew appeared to be the game's major casualty, assisted off in the second half with a serious-looking knee injury.

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