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13 Mar 2009 11:34
The Auckland Blues remain in touch with the Super 14 competition leaders after thrashing the bottom-placed Central Cheetahs 46-12 here on Friday.
The Blues ran in six tries to two, with their talented backline regularly finding holes in the defence of the South African side at North Harbour Stadium.
If not for a large number of handling errors, the Blues could have run up an even bigger score, although they were aided by numerous missed tackles by the Cheetahs, who have yet to record their first win after five games.
Rain in the second spell added to the high mistake rate for both sides as passes went to ground and players struggled at times to find a firm footing.
The Blues started with clear intent, opening their account after just three minutes when centre Anthony Tuitavake took advantage of a Cheetahs defence in disarray to go over.
Halfback Taniela Moa was responsible for the build-up after taking a quick tap from a free kick to put Tuitavake into the clear.
Moa also had a hand in the second try, putting flanker Chris Lowrey into the clear. Flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth added the conversion from near the touchline, before going on to tally 16 points from the boot.
The Cheetahs were more assertive in the second quarter and some sustained pressure ended with a try to outside centre Corne Uys after lock David de Villiers floated a clever pass when breaking towards the tryline.
The Blues went into the break with a 20-7 lead when Gopperth kicked his second penalty right on the whistle.
The New Zealand team virtually snuffed out the Cheetahs challenge with two tries within the first four minutes of the second half, as the South Africans’ sloppy defence let them down again.
All Black Isaia Toeava finished off a slick passage of play through the Blues backline, while halfback Moa, one of the best for the Blues, was rewarded with the bonus point try after 44 minutes.
The scrums were uncontested for most of the second spell after the Cheetahs lost their entire front row to injury.
Despite the falling standard of play late in the game, the Blues ran in two late tries through replacements Jamie Helleur and Chris Smyllie.
The Cheetahs got their second right on fulltime through replacement forward Kabamba Floors.—Sapa-AFP
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