18 Jun 2011

Blues beat Highlanders to secure playoff spot

2:25 pm on 18 June 2011

The Blues have beaten the Highlanders 33-16 on a windy, wet night in Auckland to secure a home match in the Super Rugby playoffs.

Three tries and 18 points from the boot of winger Lachie Munro helped the three-times champions end a run of four successive defeats.

Despite missing out on a four-try bonus point the Blues move to 60 points, enough for second overall and the New Zealand conference title, but only if the Crusaders and Stormers lose without bonus points.

That makes a wild card spot more likely so the Blues will probably host a first round playoff match back at Eden Park next weekend and coach Pat Lam says reaching the finals is a massive relief after four disappointing seasons.

The Highlanders led early when right wing Matt Saunders scored the first of his two tries and their veteran first-five Tony Brown drop-kicked a goal.

But tries to Stephen Brett and Luke McAlister just before half-time and Jared Payne just after the break ensured the Blues victory.