Round 13 Wrap: Blues continue to set the pace

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The Blues secured a bonus-point 47-13 win over the Highlanders to edge three points clear of the Hurricanes, while the Brumbies' win over the Crusaders, courtesy of a penalty try, left them in third place, one point ahead of the Chiefs.

The Reds lost 19-28 to the Fijian Drua in Suva, but their points buffer left them in fifth place, five points clear of the Rebels. Despite their loss, the Highlanders are seventh, with the Drua in eighth place.

Statistics watch:

Most tries: Sevu Reece (Crusaders) 12, Hoskins Sotutu (Blues) 9

Most carries: Harry Wilson (Reds) 139, Mark Tele'a (Blues) 130, Rob Valetini (Brumbies 124

Most clean breaks: Joshua Moorby (Hurricanes) 16, Tele'a, Caleb Clarke (Blues) 15

Most defenders beaten: Iosefo Masi (Drua) 62, Selestino Ravutaumadad (Drua 53), Tele'a 52

Most lineouts won: Liam Wright (Reds) 19, Josh Canham (Rebels) 49, Nick Frost (Brumbies) 46

Most metres gained: Clarke 946, Tom Wright (Brumbies) 907, Tele'a 832

Most offloads: Reece 20, Mark Nawaqanitawase (Waratahs) 16, Hoskins Sotutu (Blues) 15

Most points: Damian McKenzie (Chiefs) 135, Ben Donaldson (Force) 105, Noah Lolesio (Brumbies) 103

Most tackles: Carlo Tizzano (Force), Tom Christie (Crusaders) 171, Ryan Smith (Reds) 165

Hurricanes 32 Moana Pasifika 24

It was a night of celebration for the front rowers of the rugby world at SKY Stadium in Wellington. Making his first start for the Hurricanes' hooker, Raymond Tuputupu opened the scoring try from a lineout drive. Then, in the 20th minute, his tighthead partner Siale Lauaki was in support after a break by lock Ben Grant to score on debut. In the 22nd minute, a Moana Pasifika kick downfield was run back, and wing Daniel Sinkinson broke through and passed to Grant, who then had halfback Richard Judd on hand to complete the move with a try. Moana Pasifika opened its scoring with a lineout drive try to tighthead prop Sione Mafileo in the 25th minute. Then, four minutes before halftime, Moana Pasifika loosehead prop Abraham Pole drove over from a ruck in the corner.

Eleven minutes into the second half, a goal line ruck saw the ball flung wide to wing Fine Inisi to dive in at the corner to score and get Moana Pasifika within two points. But the Hurricanes extended the lead almost immediately when replacement flanker Peter Lakai charged down an attempted clearing kick by first five-eighths William Havili to score. Replacement Alamanda Motuga got over to score from a Moana Pasifika ruck in the 75th minute, but hopes of securing a bonus point were lost when conceding a 77th-minute penalty, which Hurricanes five-eighths Aidan Morgan converted.

Hurricanes 32 (Raymond Tuputupu, Siale Lauaki, Richard Judd, Peter Lakai tries; Aidan Morgan 3 con, 2 pen) Moana Pasifika 24 (Sione Mafileo, Abraham Pole, Fine Inisi, Alamanda Motuga tries; William Havili con; Christian Leali'ifano con). HT: 19-12

Rebels 23 Chiefs 26

Potentially playing their last game at home as a decision awaits their future, the Rebels scored the first try when wing Glen Vaihu broke the Chiefs' defence to score after six minutes. But good continuity play saw lock Tupou Vaa'i score after 23 minutes. As penalty goals were exchanged, the Chiefs took a 13-11 lead to the break.

Having a try to wing Emoni Narawa ruled out due to an earlier knock-on, the Chiefs, who had been under penalty advantage, took the lineout option, and hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho capped the driving maul with a try. First five-eighths, Damian McKenzie's penalty goal got the Chiefs out to a 23-11 lead with 30 minutes to play. Wing Lachie Anderson pulled five points back in the 57th minute, and then, with seven minutes left, Anderson went in again with the conversion, levelling the scores. But two minutes from the end, a Rebels ruck infringement in their goalmouth allowed McKenzie the easiest of kicks to secure the win.

Rebels 23 (Glen Vaihu, Lachie Andeson 2 tries; Nick Jooste con, 2 pen) Chiefs 26 (Tupou Vaa'i, Samisoni Taukei'aho tries; Damian McKenzie 2 con, 4 pen). HT 11-13

Fijian Drua 28 Reds 19

Reds wing Suliasi Vunivalu's fourth-minute foot trip of Kitione Salawa had significant repercussions for his side in Suva. It gave a penalty try to the home team to open the scoring. The Drua took advantage to see hooker Tevita Ikanivere score his first try in the eighth minute when taking advantage of the reduced Reds backline defence. Wing Floyd Aubrey latched onto a Reds cross-kick to score their first try after 12 minutes. A clever piece of running by first five-eighths, Lawson Creighton took the Reds within one point after 24 minutes. 

Five minutes into the second half, a storming run through the midfield saw wing Selestino Ravutaumada take play just short of the goal line, where he was foot-tripped by Vunivalu again. From the ruck, Ikanivere eventually got the ball down under the crossbar. But Vunivalu's second yellow card for the same offence became an automatic red. The Drua were up 25-14 when the Reds scored a consolation try to hooker George Blake.

Drua 28 (Tevita Ikanivere 2 tries; Penalty try; Isaiah Armstrong-Revula con, 2 pen; Kemu Valetini pen) Reds 19 (Floyd Aubrey, Lawson Creighton, George Blake tries; Creighton 2 con) HT: 18-14

Brumbies 31 Crusaders 24

Brumbies first five-eighths Noah Lolesio lobbed an 11th-minute kick to the corner for wing Andy Muirhead to take the ball and make the opening score against the Crusaders in Canberra. Three minutes later, fullback Johnny McNicholl, who scored the Crusaders' first try, bobbled a kick from deep in Brumbies territory. The home team secured and moved the ball quickly so that fullback Tom Wright could beat the defence and score. Three minutes before halftime, the home team seized a ball lost just outside the Brumbies 22m area by lock Quinten Strange. Lolesio broke downfield and kicked the ball ahead, where Wright won the race to the ball to score again.

Four minutes into the second half, wing Sevu Reece appeared out of a Crusaders ruck and raced in to close down the margin with his try. Having started a Brumbies rush in the 59th minute, loose forward Rob Valetini passed outside, and when the move broke down just short of the line, he rushed up to take the ball and corkscrew his way over the line for a try. Then, with 12 minutes left, halfback Noah Hotham threw the smallest of feints at the Brumbies' defence at a ruck to waltz through a gap to score. The scores were levelled, but after a Lolesio penalty attempt hit the post and rebounded into the in-goal area, Strange conceded a penalty try for tapping the bouncing ball dead to extend the Crusaders' miseries.

Brumbies 31 (Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright 2, Rob Valetini tries; Penalty try; Noah Lolesio 2 con) Crusaders 24 (Johnny McNicholl, Sevu Reece, Noah Hotham tries; Fergus Burke 3 con; Chay Fihaki pen). HT: 17-7

Blues 47 Highlanders 13

Late disruptions to the Blues with prop Marcel Renata and centre Bryce Heem unable to start led to an at times uncoordinated first quarter with penalties conceded, giving the Highlanders easy returns to Blues territory. There was always a hint of the Blues' power game overcoming issues. That power saw prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi score in the fifth minute. Highlanders' lineout variations resulted in a move at the front of the lineout, creating space for wing Timoci Tavatavanawai to score. Soon after, Blues second five-eighths Corey Evans slipped a kick behind the Highlanders' backs, allowing fullback Cole Forbes to run through to take the favourable bounce and score between the posts. Hooker Kurt Eklund added another try from a lineout drive. Highlanders first five-eighths Cameron Millar added two penalty goals before the Blues went to halftime up 21-13.

After the break, the Blues power game emerged to shut the door on the visitors and hold them scoreless. The loss of Millar, after two minutes, to a head injury was disappointing for the Highlanders. The Blues produced a well-constructed try through the pack to give wing Kade Banks a try on debut. Eklund scored another try before replacement halfback Taufa Funaki marked his arrival with a classy try. Wing Caleb Clarke completed the scoring with an intercept on halfway that carried him clear to score.

Blues 47 (Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Cole Forbes, Kurt Eklund 2, Kade Banks, Taufa Funaki, Caleb Clarke tries; Harry Plummer 6 con) Highlanders 13 (Timoci Tavatavanawai try; Cameron Millar con, 2 pen). HT: 21-13

Force 27 Waratahs 7

A well-worked eighth-minute try to fullback Mark Nawaqanitawase, his first of the season, proved a false dawn for the struggling Waratahs in Perth. The home town Force had their strengths, with first five-eighths Ben Donaldson outstanding in working with his backline, his initial break providing a link to fullback Kurtley Beale before he fed centre Bayley Kuenzle for a try in the 10th minute. Ten minutes later, Donaldson was rewarded for his support play to score a try. Donaldson's penalty goal on halftime gave the home team a 20-7 lead.

Force scrum pressure saw Waratahs' replacement prop Brad Amituanai sin-binned at a five-metre scrum on his line. That gave the Force an advantage they used. Applying a power shove, they controlled the ball, gained an advantage and then had No8 Reed Prinseep dive on the loose ball over the line to score the winning try.

Force 27 (Bayley Kuenzle, Ben Donaldson, Reed Prinsep tries; Donaldson 3 con 2 pen) Waratahs 7 (Mark Nawaqanitawase try; Will Harrison con). HT: 20-7


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