The Blues Development team has made it a clean sweep against their Chiefs counterparts with a 26-15 victory last night at the Papatoetoe Rugby Club.
The win is their third against the Chiefs this season, with three games remaining against New Zealand Under 20s, Samoa Under 20s and the Cook Islands.
The Blues produced a dominant first half performance, before their defence was tested in the second spell – two late tries secured the victory.
Fullback Marty Swart opened the scoring for the home team, slicing through the Chiefs defensive line on a 60 metre run to the try line. His efforts went unconverted and the Blues held a 5-0 advantage.
Making his debut in the Development team, flanker Blake Gibson was powerful around the field and ably assisted by his fellow forwards who produced a hugely physical performance.
The Blues second try was again crafted from deep within their half, setting a scrum after a Chiefs knock on.
TJ Faiane sent a perfectly weighted chip kick over the Chiefs line which was collected by Pita Ahki. The Blues midfielder drew in a couple of defenders before offloading to Faiane who ran away for the points.
The Chiefs hit back just on the stroke of half time, with Sean Wainui crossing in the corner. Wharenui Hawarea converted to close the Blues lead to 12-7 at the break.
The Chiefs came out firing in the second half and had the Blues pinned in their own half for long periods.
With the defence standing strong, the Chiefs looked to the posts when awarded a penalty, Hawarea nailed the points to cut the lead to just two points.
With 20 minutes left on the clock the Chiefs took the lead for the first time in the match. After continuous pressure at the line the Chiefs set a five metre scrum and went blind, halfback Harrison Leivene ducking over in the corner.
The try went unconverted, the Chiefs in front 15-12.
That lead was short lived however, as the Blues rolled on reserves and lifted the intensity of the match.
With waves of phases right on the Chiefs try line it was Matt McGahan who found his way through and in converting his own try, the Blues took a 19-15 lead.
The stakes were high in the closing minutes of the game but mistakes were creeping in on both sides.
The Blues set a midfield scrum after a Chiefs knock on and produced some brilliance with Vince Aso and Marty Swart combining to send Jonie Macalai down the sideline and over for the try. Dan Hawkins converted to seal the 26-15 victory.
Coach Steve Jackson was happy with his team’s effort.
“There were a lot of guys who stepped up tonight. The likes of Blake (Gibson), Leon (Fukofuka) and TJ (Faiane), they really stood up and proved they can compete at this level of rugby.
“Our effort on defence was huge and it was great to see Kane (Barrett) and Tom (Murday) get through some minutes and blow out the cobwebs,” said Jackson.
The Development team will next play on May 23rd against the New Zealand Under 20 team.
Blues Development 36 (M Swart, T Faiane, M McGahan, J Macalai tries, M McGahan 2 con, D Hawkins 1 con)
Chiefs Development 15 (S Wainui, H Leivene tries, W Hawarea 1 con, 1 pen)