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Super Rugby Blues continue for Waratahs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/05/2017 Darren Walton

New Zealand's worst remains a class above Australia's best after the Blues downed the NSW Waratahs by seven points in their Super Rugby clash in Sydney.

A week after keeping Australia's conference-leading Brumbies tryless in Canberra, the Blues accounted for the Waratah 40-33 at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

Despite sitting last in the cut-throat New Zealand conference, the Blues buried the Waratahs to extend the Kiwi dominance over Australian opposition to 17 wins from as many trans-Tasman encounters in 2017 and dealt their opponents' finals hopes a potentially fatal blow.

Israel Folau broke the longest tryscoring drought of his five-year Super Rugby career with a second-half double, but the superstar fullback's first strikes in seven games were not enough for the Waratahs.

With a bye and no opportunity to make inroads next week, the Waratahs are four competition points adrift of the Brumbies after suffering four straight home defeats for the first time in five years.

The damage was done in a dismal first half from the hosts.

Starved of possession, the Waratahs wasted virtually any ball they had with fundamental errors.

They knocked on, conceded turnovers, gave away scrum penalties on their own feed, kicked out on the full or simply kicked the ball away despite only having it for barely 20 per cent of the half.

The Waratahs were also punished for their ill-discipline, with five-eighth Piers Francis nailing four penalty goals and also converting the Blues' both first-half tries to help the visitors to a 26-0 lead at the interval.

The Waratahs spent much of the week working on their one-on-one defence but it didn't help Folau, Ned Hanigan or Tolu Latu as winger Reiko Ioane beat all three in a slashing 50-metre strike for the Blues' first five-pointer in the 21st minute.

It was hard to know whether disgruntled fans were filing out of the ground or just to the bar after Blues lock Scott Scrafton strolled over a minute before halftime.

Folau crossed two minutes in to the second half before hooker Tolu Latu, back from a shoulder injury, briefly raised hopes of the Waratahs pulling off their greatest-ever comeback win.

Alas, Ioane's second of the night, quickly followed by another from his brother Akira in the 66th minute blew the Blues' lead back out to 40-12.

The Tahs finished with a flurry, claiming a bonus point after late tries to Bernard Foley (69th minute), Folau and prop Paddy Ryan at the death.

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