Classy Blues outplay mediocre Lions

It was a lesson in skill, speed and possession when the Blues outplayed the Lions 55-10 in a Super 14 match at Ellis Park on Saturday night.

The Lions showed some intent when they took their initial possession wide; it was exciting but didn’t look like producing points. And then, when the Blues also showed their intent of running early on, it was immediately effective and the difference in execution all too clear.

Flyhalf Nick Evans made the breach to run 50m from a set scrum for lock Kurtis Haiu to score the first of his two tries after the ensuing ruck on the Lions try line. Evans converted and the Blues had set the pattern for their night.

They scored seven tries in all, one by a brilliant Evans who also kicked all seven conversions and two penalties for a full house of nine from nine and 25 points.

The Lions’ consolation try came a minute from full-time through Jaco van Schalkwyk.

The early perception was that the Lions tried to stretch it just for the sake of stretching, with little structure to their forays. The Blues, on the other hand, looked dangerous every time they took it wide or inter-passed.

Silly handling errors and communication lapses on defence cost the Lions dearly and the Blues took a 10-3 lead after 19 minutes following an earlier Louis Strydom penalty for the Lions. Less than two minutes later, a lovely cut and perfect pass from Benson Stanley saw Evans score and convert to make it 17-3.

A rout was on the cards when shocking defence let in Jerome Kaino and Evans moved up his tally to 14 points and the score to 24-3 after 24 minutes. The Blues’ bonus-point try came after 32 minutes when Isa Nacewa scored the Blues’ fourth try with Evans’s unerring boot making it 31-3.

There seemed to be some reprieve in store for the Lions when try-scorer Haiu was yellow-carded for a late spear tackle after a previous warning for a swinging arm tackle. But again execution let the Lions down with a try squandered following a poor pass from Ryno Benjamin with the try line begging.

At 31-3 at the break, and the Blues dictating while the Lions continually erred, there seemed no comeback possibility for the home side.

And so it was, although the Lions were a little more composed on attack against a side who had taken their foot off the pedal when the score had climbed to 41-3 just a few minutes after the break.

But 21 missed tackles, even against a side who gave their replacements a run in the second half, tells the story of mediocrity on a night where the passes were a little wild and woolly, and the defence poor. Too little possession in the effort to stop all the gaps also made for little forward cohesion and a resultant surfeit of possession to the Blues.

The Lions cannot play much worse rugby — but it is also true that the Blues are a classy side and worthy of their standing as one of the favourites to win the Super 14 title this year. — Sapa

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