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Blues overhaul fast-starting Force

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/04/2017

Brothers Akira and Rieko Ioane came off the bench to telling effect as the Blues quelled a bold challenge from Super Rugby battlers the Force 24-15 in Auckland.

Down 8-0 after half an hour, the Blues capitalised on a yellow card shown to No.8 Isi Naisarani, crossing twice before the break to lead 12-8.

A game-breaking try came via 20-year-old Rieko Ioane, who responded to his benching at Eden Park by creating and finishing a sparkling try in the 65th minute.

Fullback Michael Collins scored their fourth try, also generated from deep, but opposite Dane Haylett-Petty crossed with two minutes on the clock to deny the hosts a bonus point.

The Blues continued their pattern of 2017, having beaten three offshore opponents with relative ease but having lost all three of their matches against Kiwi teams.

The Force were highly competitive but couldn't make the most of a strong start which featured a penalty to Jono Lance and a burrowing try from lock Richie Arnold in his maiden start.

They lost the services of halfback Ryan Louwrens to an early knee injury and faded noticeably in the second spell when the pace of the game increased, slumping to a fourth loss from five games.

The Blues will be concerned by a knee injury which forced flanker Jimmy Tupou off midway through the first half.

That sparked the early arrival of bollocking Akira Ioane, who carried the ball over the gain line in a manner none of his team-mates had managed.

It was fitting he scored their first try, from a lineout drive.

The Blues took advantage of their numerical advantage soon afterwards, sending across winger Matt Duffie.

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