Crusaders, Blues win again in final preparation games

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The Blues completed their pre-season programme with a 29-28 win over the Hurricanes at Onewa Domain on Friday.


While the final outcome was close, it didn't reflect the form the home team achieved in a first half showing that hinted at better things ahead for the Blues.


Their scrum impressed, they were accurate and well led around the field by likely starting first five-eighths Stephen Perofeta, who missed all of last season due to injury.


But with the heat requiring plenty of changes for the second half, the Blues lost cohesion and the Hurricanes, who left for South Africa at 6am on Saturday for their opening game against the Stormers, were able to finish strongly to come back from 14-17 down at the break.


Flankers Tony Lamborn and Dalton Papalii, No8 Akira Ioane, halfback Sam Nock and wing Jordan Hyland all scored tries for the Blues.


Wing Ben Lam, who impressed, hooker Ricky Riccitelli, halfback Jamie Booth and hooker Asafo Aumua scored tries for the Hurricanes.


In Wanaka, in peak mid-summer conditions, the Crusaders ran hot to take a 41-7 win over the Highlanders in their annual warm-up game.


After midfielder Rob Thompson scored first for the home team, the Crusaders ran in 41 unanswered points. Wing Leicester Fainga'anuku scored two tries with fullback Will Jordan, prop Michael Alaalatoa, flanker Tom Sanders, midfielder Braydon Ennor and wing Fetuli Paea also getting on the scoreboard.


The Crusaders are to host the Waratahs in Nelson in their opening Super Rugby game of the season.


Having beaten the Highlanders 40-21 last week, the Waratahs were checked by the Reds when losing 19-28 in their final preparation game on Friday. Down 7-28 at one stage, late tries got the Waratahs closer by the end.


Coach Rob Penney said: "It wasn't in the plan but you have to give a lot of credit to the Reds. They played really well and they comprehensively beat us. A disappointing final hit-out for us. We took a step backwards from last week, I guess," he said.


The Highlanders have an extra week to prepare to play as they have a first round bye and open their season against the Sharks in Dunedin in round two.



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