Blues overpower Reds to clinch 11th straight Super Rugby Pacific win
The Reds had dug in early and only trailed by eight points at halftime, but were blown away when the Blues hit top gear, conceding five tries in the second half.
It again highlighted the Reds’ struggles stepping up in class to face the competition’s New Zealand-based sides and they are now 0-4 in those fixtures,.
The Blues, meanwhile, extended their lead at the top of the table to seven points.
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Former Dally M medallist Tuivasa-Sheck was the first to make an impact, with a slashing run driving his team forward allowing the powerful Blues unit to rumble over the line courtesy of Caleb Clarke for a 17-0 lead.
Bryce Heem had found the game’s first try on 14 minutes, carving through the Reds’ defence just three minutes after coming off the bench for the injured Rieko Ioane.
Heem crossed again, doubling up as Tuivasa-Sheck again weaved some magic with a precise pass to create a line break for Stephen Perofeta who in turn found the substitute.
But Vunivalu, a two-time NRL premiership player with Melbourne, powered over on 22 minutes and he helped the Reds cut the halftime deficit to eight points, with a brutal run trampling Blues opponents and allowing lock Ryan Smith to cross.
Clarke found his second try courtesy of a special one-handed pass from Beauden Barrett, and the Blues flyhalf had a try of his own just minutes later after getting on the end of a perfect Perofeta kick.
The tries kept coming for the Blues with substitute prop Soane Vikena finding a pair, although Reds fullback Jock Campbell notched a second-half double thanks to gorgeous passes from James O’Connor and Vunivalu.
Discipline was a problem for the Reds in the second half, conceding nine penalties to the Blues’ none.
It was the most points the Reds have let through in any match this season, exceeding the 32 points they copped against the Rebels in round nine.
Blues 53 (Tries to Bryce Heem (2), Caleb Clarke (2), Beauden Barrett, Stephen Perofeta and Soane Vikena (2); 5 conversions and penalty to Perofeta)
Reds 26 (Tries to Suliasi Vunivalu, Ryan Smith and Jock Campbell (2); 3 conversions to James O’Connor)
– Alex Mitchell
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