Blues claim desperate overtime draw

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Lynn McConnell     19 Mar 2016     Getty Images

It seemed eight minutes from the end that the Blues were dead and buried, but a try to replacement halfback Billy Guyton reduced the 15-25 margin and gave the Blues a chance which they were able to take to level the scores.

Heavily penalised the Blues compounded their situation by failing to take chances they created in a disappointing performance.

Dropped ball competed with scrum penalties to frustrate the Blues whose away record almost took another blow. And a late scrum penalty resulted in the Blues losing replacement prop Sione Mafileo to the sin-bin.

Having gained a significant advantage in the scrums, the Reds used that base to create the pressure that almost cost the Blues.

Superbly led by lock Rob Simmons, the Reds refused to let an untidy lineout undermine their chance and his charges were able to put effective pressure on the Blues as they attempted to mount attacks.

In the second half, it was a 54th minute Reds scrum that broke the Blues' back.

Left wing Eto Nabuli came across from his flank to create a gap and racing through he found centre Samu Kerevi perfectly placed inside him and untroubled to run in for the try which gave the Reds a 20-15 lead.

The Blues launched a prolonged period on attack but ball was turned over when wing Tevita Li went to ground without sufficient cover and the Reds moved the ball with Nabuli linking with halfback Nick Frisby who found first five-eighths Jake McIntyre patrolling the flank to take the pass to score in the corner.
In attempting to make play at a greater tempo, the Blues increased the risk factor and took time to settle their play down. The Reds' desperation ensured they made the most of their chances even if they were unable to deliver a killer blow.

The Blues had started well and it took wing Rieko Ioane only nine minutes to have a creative impact on the game, courtesy of a top of the lineout delivery by No.8 Steven Luatua to halfback Bryn Hall. His pass to first five-eighths Ihaia West was precise and he fed a short ball on his outside to Ioane who immediately punched open a gap.

When approaching a defender he passed back to West who had stayed in support to score.

But the Reds made the most of a centre-field kick by first five-eighths Jack McIntyre to wing Chris Feaua-Sautia. He beat Tevita Li to the ball in the air and used speed to burn off Luatua and then beat the cover defence to score.

From a restart after a West penalty goal, the Blues created a chance out wide after prop Charlie Faumuina again demonstrated his deft handling ability. Centre Male Sau raced into a gap and found Hall on hand to run in for a dazzling try.

Reds 25 (Chris Feaua-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Jack McIntyre tries; Jack McIntyre 2 con, 2 pen) Blues 25 (Ihaia West, Bryn Hall, Billy Guyton tries; West 2 con, 2 pen). HT: 13-15