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Blues make the play but Reds take the win

Getty Images     27 Apr 2013     Getty Images

The Blues scored the only try, won 64 percent of the possession, and demanded plenty of the home team at rucks and mauls and at the tackle but it still wasn't enough. The home team may have last been held tryless at home for the first time since 1996 but they came away with the win, courtesy of Quade Cooper's goal-kicking boot.

The Blues fought hard to the end in a bid for the win but errors, and two crucial knock-ons by the side's most experienced forwards hooker Keven Mealamu and lock Ali Williams denied the Blues the chance to claim the try they needed to secure what would have been a deserved win.

From the outset of the game, the Blues demonstrated their intention by keeping the ball in hand and even in their own 22m area they were requiring determined defence from the Reds.

Penalty goals, including a mammoth 52m effort from Albert Nikoro in the 52nd minute dominated the first 30 minutes before the Blues scored the first try of the game. Reds first five-eighths Cooper landed three while Blues first five-eighths Chris Noakes added one for an 11-9 half-time lead.

The Blues try resulted from a turnover and a solid period of controlled attack by the Blues deep in the Reds 22m area.

Patience was crucial and the Blues proved equal to that requirement when picking off the defence to create space for second five-eighths Jackson Willison to get over.

The Blues dominated again for the first 10 minutes of the second half but despite some fine work by centre Rene Ranger, who made one startling break, and some outstanding work at the breakdown by flankers Luke Braid and Steven Luatua, they went unrewarded for their endeavours.

But the Reds fared no better when Cooper had a chance to land his fourth from a handy position in the in the 53rd minute only to miss the chance to regain the lead for the Reds. He fared better in the 75th minute when landing a harder kick to claim a one-point lead.

Reds loose forwards Eddie Quirk and Liam Gill had a superb contest with their Blures rivals although they were required to make many more tackles on the night. The Reds also made every effort to get wing Digby Ioane into the action but the Blues kept him well contained.

The constant recycling of ball also put the pressure on at halfback where Piri Weepu had to clear ball and found a ready distributor in Noakes.

Reds 12 (Quade Cooper 4 pen) Blues 11(Jackson Willison try; Chris Noakes, Albert Nikoro pen). HT: 9-11