The Auckland Blues beat their New Zealand rivals the Otago Highlanders 40-15 at Dunedin on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of making the Super 14 semifinals.
The Blues scored five tries to collect a valuable bonus point and move into the top four with only one round to go before the play-offs.
The Highlanders scored two tries midway through the second half to briefly threaten a comeback but were unable to carry their momentum through to the end as they crashed to their 10th defeat this season.
Auckland flyhalf Nick Evans had an outstanding match against his former team, scoring two tries and kicking three penalties and two conversions for a personal haul of 21 points.
Wings Rudi Wulf and David Smith also crossed for five-pointers while centre Anthony Tuitavake scored the fourth to seal the bonus point.
”We came down here to do a job, we did it and we’re still in [the competition],” Evans told the New Zealand Press Association.
”Our job tonight [Saturday] was five points. We knew to give ourselves a shot at the title we needed a bit of momentum. We needed five points and got it.”
Auckland had the match under control by half-time after opening up a 26-3 lead with Evans scoring the first 21 points.
The Highlanders pulled back to within 11 points when centre Aaron Bancroft and flanker Adam Thomson crossed in quick succession but failed to score again.
Tuitavake put the result beyond doubt when he scored 13 minutes from the end before Smith scored a runaway try from inside his own quarter just prior to the final siren. — Reuters