Blues in emotional win over Highlanders - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blues in emotional win over Highlanders

29/04/2011 08:39:24 PM Comments (0)

The Auckland Blues scored an emotional 10-15 win over the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday to move to the top of the New Zealand Super Rugby conference.

Inspired by long-serving lock Kurtis Haiu, who was diagnosed with bone cancer during the week, the Blues racked up their fifth straight win over Otago, the surprise package of this year's Super Rugby tournament.

"Kurtis that was for you mate, the boys dug really deep," Auckland captain Keven Mealamu said.

The Highlanders held Auckland tryless but failed to show the form which provided a surprise win over the Canterbury Crusaders last week, paying the price for poor discipline in a tightly-fought first half.

Conceding nine penalties in the first 40 minutes, the Highlanders gifted the Blues 63 per cent of possession, relying on dogged defence as their attack faltered.

Blues fly-half Luke McAlister capitalised on the errors, converting three penalty goals to give Auckland a 9-0 lead at halftime.

With lock Jarrad Hoeata sin-binned just before halftime, the Highlanders appeared set for a torrid 10 minutes after the break.

However, midfield back Matt Saunders upped the tempo after the restart, with a line break that set the scene for Robbie Robinson to give the Highlanders the only try of the match.

The setback failed to rattle the Blues, who maintained the pressure even as the Highlanders closed the deficit to 12-10, sealing the win with a penalty in the 65th minute.

Any hopes of a Highlanders comeback were snuffed out when Aaron Smith was sinbinned for a spear tackle on Luke McAlister four minutes from time.

Highlanders skipper Jamie Mackintosh said his side's mistakes proved costly.

"We just got the ball and turned it over, we tried to put pressure on rucks but we were a little bit ill disciplined, we need to be a bit tighter," he said.

"We let too many away today."

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