Blues repel Argentine challenge

Blues repel Argentine challenge

The Blues withstood a forceful Jaguares side from Argentina to come away with a 24-16 victory at North Harbour Stadium.

The home side scored two tries to one in a game that became scrappy at times in a very physical game.

After taking time to get into the game, the Blues fought back to hold the upper hand. Just when they looked to take control, the Jaguares returned fire.

Ahead 15-6 at halftime, both teams traded penalites before a further Ihaia West goal gave them a 21-9 advantage with 20 minutes remaining.

But the Jaguares forced a change of possession and managed to score through replacement Gonzalo Bertranou which was converted to close the margin to just five.

The home side, playing in front of a crowd of 10300, pushed on to attack, came just short of a try to replacement George Moala, but in the end a superior scrum led to a final West penalty to make the game safe.

The Blues took, nearly more, than 25 minutes of the first half to get their hands on the ball, forced to defend, not helped by an 8-1 penalty count against them.

After another infringement referee Mike Fraser acted, handing Tevita Li a yellow card following the general warning.

However ,the Blues defence was stout and their scrum significantly improved against the might of the Argentine pack.

It was 30 minutes before the Blues got some reward with a try to Steven Luatua following a long series of phase play, latching on to a slick pass from captain James Parsons.

West, who missed his first two kicks, landed a penalty to get the home side in front for the first time.

A piece of Rene Ranger magic, from a break and slick pass put West into space and he just made it to the try line, converting for the 15-6 halftime advantage.

The senior players stood up with Steven Luatua outstanding as was captain James Parsons while in the backs Rene Ranger produced his best game since his return from overseas.

“It was a win we needed to stay in touch with the other New Zealand teams,” said halfback Bryn Hall. “The game got scrappy at times but our defence was excellent, the scrum was outstanding and I thought our backs took a big step forward.”

The Blues have a short turn-around before taking on the Chiefs in Hamilton this Friday.

Blues 24 (Steven Luatua, Ihaia West tries; West 4 pen, 1 con) Jaguares 16 (Gonzalo Bertranou try; Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias 3pen, 1 con)

Halftime 15-6.