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Blues hold strong for bonus point win over physical Fijian Drua

By AAP
Hoskins Sotutu. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Super Rugby Pacific ladder-leading Blues have been given a scare by battlers Fijian Drua before scrambling to a 35-18 victory in their AAMI Park clash.

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The Blues have only lost once in eight games this season and were coming off a win over fellow New Zealand heavyweights, the Crusaders, which was their first at Christchurch in 18 years.

But they were unsettled by the competition newcomers in their Saturday afternoon clash in Super Round, which features five games over the weekend in Melbourne.

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What the All Blacks squad could look like halfway through Super Rugby Pacific.
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What the All Blacks squad could look like halfway through Super Rugby Pacific.

The Blues struggled to find their usual rhythm in the face of the fierce physicality of the Fijians, who have only chalked up one victory in their campaign.

With their silky skills on show, the Drua dominated possession but too often were unable to capitalise on the pressure they put on their opponents.

 

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“They’re not like any other team – they’re very unique and I think that’s what caught us out,” Blues coach Leon MacDonald said.

“Their style is different and the way that they attack the game is refreshing and we sit here frustrated because we were unable to play the game we wanted because they didn’t allow us.

“It was a scrappy performance and we just couldn’t get our flow going at all …. but we won and we got got five points and that’s what we wanted.”

The teams traded early tries before the Blues kicked away to a halftime score of 21-10 with two further converted tries.

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Lock Sam Darry crossed followed by Marcel Renata, who was on the field while prop Nepo Laulala was in the blood-bin.

League recruit Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was solid in his 60-minute effort, almost setting up a late first-half try before his pass was spilt by his target.

Ten minutes into the second half Blues centre Rieko Ioane showed his acceleration to snatch an intercept and dash 70 metres to touch down but the Drua refused to go away.

They closed to within 10 points when they mauled the ball off a lineout before hulking winger Onisi Ratave busted through the defensive line to touch down.

Blues winger AJ Lam then showed another way to score, using clever footwork to step through for his second of the night, extending their lead to 17 points with 15 minutes remaining.

The Blues had to toil down a man for the final 10 minutes after losing reserve prop Karl Tu’inukuafe to a yellow card after repeated team infringements, but they managed to hang tough to secure a bonus point.

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