Auckland hang on to beat Bulls

Auckland flyhalf Nick Evans landed a drop goal seven minutes from time to guide the Blues to a 23-21 win over defending Super 14 champions the Bulls on Saturday.

Evans, returning to the New Zealand franchise after two weeks out with concussion, also kicked two penalties and two conversions to help the Blues pinch victory despite the Bulls outscoring them three tries to two.

The result maintained Auckland’s place in the top four while leaving the South Africans near the bottom with just two wins from seven matches.

“Set piece-wise in the first half I thought we had it on them but once again we just slid off,” Auckland captain Troy Flavell said in a televised interview.

“Obviously we’re striving to get better every week but in these later rounds of the competition those passes have got to stick and the combinations need to come together really quick.”

The Blues led 10-7 at halftime after a try by Flavell that was awarded by the video referee and a conversion and penalty from Evans.

Prop Wikus van Heerden scored the first of his two tries for the Bulls in the 16th minute but the visitors slipped 10 points behind early in the second half when hooker Keven Mealamu scampered over for the Blues.

The Bulls kept within range when van Heerden crossed for his second then snatched the lead when Springboks wing Bryan Habana set up Derick Kuun for a try before Evans put the home side back ahead with a drop goal.

“It was a much better performance from us .... one drop goal, one bounce of the ball, it could have been a different result,” Bulls skipper Fourie du Preez.

“We weren’t good enough on the night….it’s going to be tough now, we don’t have enough points, but we’re still going to just take it game by game.” - Reuters

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