8 Jun 2017

Blues slip past the Lions

5:27 am on 8 June 2017

A brilliant late try to Blues first five Ihaia West helped the the home side topple the Lions 22-16 in the tourist's second game of the tour at Eden Park.

Rieko Ioane scores a try and celebrates with Matt Duffie.

Rieko Ioane, left, celebrates his try Matt Duffie. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It's the Lions first loss in the 10-match series after just scraping past the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei just four days ago.

The Lions controlled territory and possession in the first few minutes of the game in front of a 40,639-strong crowd, but the Blues were first to score off the back of some patient attack that started in their own half.

The visitors tried to put the Blues under pressure early, coming off their defensive line with a great deal of urgency but the Blues quickly found an overlap 20m out that resulted in five points to winger Reiko Ioane.

The Blues' Rieko Ioane scores against the Lions.

The Blues' Rieko Ioane scores against the Lions. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Blues' inexperienced first five, Stephen Perofeta, was unable to add the two points and then almost cost his side five points off the kick off when he fumbled a pass from halfback Augustine Pulu.

The Lions made the most of the mistake and pushed the ball out wide where they had a big overlap but centre Jared Payne was deemed to have out his hand in touch before putting the ball down over the try line.

Despite the missed opportunity the Lions continued to dominate in territory and possession in the first 20 minutes and were rewarded for their patience with a try.

Number eight CJ Stander scored the Lions first points when he dotted down at the back of a strong rolling maul and more points more were added by full back Leigh Halfpenny to take the lead.

The early mistakes played into the hands of the Lions whose set piece proved a handful for the Blues, gifting the visitors an easy three points right out in front when their scrum collapsed.

The last 10 minutes of the first half was scrappy from both sides as the rain began to fall at Eden Park.

The Blues were given one final opportunity right on half time when Steven Luatua was collected high in a tackle but Perofeta failed to convert the three points right out in front.

However, Perofeta's bad luck proved good for the Blues. His kick hit the left upright post, ricocheting back into the field which the Blues pounced on, resulting in Sonny Bill Williams grounding a try.

Sonny Bill Williams celebrates his try for the Blues against the Lions.

Sonny Bill Williams celebrates his try which came right on half time. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Williams try was a crucial, if not contentious, point in the match, sending the Blues into half time with a 12-10 lead after struggling for territory and possession for most of the first half.

The Blues were the first to add to the points tally in the second half when replacement first five Ihaia West kicked a penalty from 20m out.

The Lions were reduced to 14 men in the 56th minute after replacement outside back, Liam Williams was yellow carded for taking out Blues wing Matt Duffie twice in the space of two minutes.

Blues winger Matt Duffie taken high by Lions player Liam Williams.

Blues winger Matt Duffie taken high by Lions player Liam Williams. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Despite one disallowed try, the Blues failed to capitalise on the extra man on the field and it was the Lions who turned it into points.

Rhys Webb slotted an easy three points right out in front of the posts after Augustine Pulu was penalised for not rolling away at the breakdown.

Webb added another three points at the 70 minute mark to give the Lions the lead 16-15 after the Blues scrum was again penalised.

As the crowd began to quieten down in the final 10 minutes a break from Sonny Bill Williams in the middle of the field opened up a channel for Ihaia West who scooted past Leigh Halfpenny with some fast feet to score right under the posts.

Lions captain Ken Owens reacts to Sonny Bill Williams' try.

Lions captain Ken Owens reacting to Sonny Bill Williams' last minute try. Photo: Photosport

He then converted his own try to give the Blues a six-point lead with five minutes left in the match.

The Lions were quick to counter, creeping deep into the Blues' 22 for the final minutes of the game.

However, they were unable to make use of their possession, giving away an attacking line out in the final play of the game to go down 22-16.

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