They go to Cape Town for a match against the unbeaten Stormers next Sunday with confidence boosted after their 23-21 victory, a win helped to a large extent by first-five Otere Black, one of those playmakers under the spotlight. It was Black who kicked the winning points after the final siren, a high-pressure moment for a man on the comeback trail himself.
Before that moment of truth, assisting him in his task of creating the opportunities they couldn’t find against the Crusaders at Eden Park last weekend were second-five Harry Plummer and fullback Stephen Perofeta.
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The latter in particular was impressive in difficult, slippery conditions; he scored a crucial try in the second half which allowed the Blues to overtake the Bulls and silenced the Loftus Versfeld crowd and was as safe as an Auckland house price under the high ball.
The Bulls, taking advantage of a yellow card for No 8 Hoskins Sotutu for two dangerous tackles – harsh in MacDonald’s mind and those probably of most neutral observers – struck back with a converted try for Jeandre Rudolph with nine minutes remaining before Black’s late intervention.
It was little more than the visitors deserved given their three tries to two advantage. Wing Mark Telea showed good strength to dot down in the corner and flanker Tom Robinson showed similar attributes in driving over from close range.
“We competed well in a lot of areas,” MacDonald said. “Our set piece was a lot better.”
It certainly was. The Blues’ lineout was significantly better; they won all 13 of theirs and nabbed a couple from the hosts and they probably didn’t get the rewards they deserved at scrum time.
One of the few negatives was a shoulder injury for hooker James Parsons suffered late in the match, one likely to keep him out of the Stormers match. “It looked pretty serious,” MacDonald said.
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