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Blues snap NZ losing streak, overcome gutsy Highlanders in Eden Park thriller

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live coverage of tonight's Super Rugby clash between the Blues and Highlanders at Eden Park in Auckland.

Rieko Ioane scores an early try for the Blues. Source: Photosport

FULLTIME - BLUES 33 HIGHLANDERS 26

The Blues hold on and have broken a 19 game losing streak against New Zealand teams with a 33-26 win over the Highlanders. The visitors had a chance to score late in the game but just couldn't hold onto the ball, spilling the ball forward just as the final siren blew. 

77 mins:  BLUES 33 HIGHLANDERS 26

THREE! This time it is the Blues who dominate the Highlanders at scrum time, the Blues rumble their way up field and earn themselves a penalty. The Highlanders are penalised for being offside and Otere Black fires his team in front with a successful kick at goal from 40m out.

73 mins:  BLUES 30 HIGHLANDERS 26

TRY! Patrick Tuipulotu crashes over to score for the Blues from close range. Rieko Ioane made a an excellent break down the left edge before giving the ball to Dalton Papali'i who was tackled 10m short of the Highlanders' goal-line. The Blues rumbled it up through the forwards and Tuipulotu finished it off to give his side the lead.

Otere Black nails his converion attempt from easy range.

67 mins:  BLUES 23 HIGHLANDERS 26

YELLOW CARD! Highlanders star winger Waisake Naholo has been sent to the bin for a dangerous lifting tackle on Blues' flanker Tom Robinson.

64 mins:  BLUES 23 HIGHLANDERS 26

THREE! Marty Banks steps up and slots another successful kick at goal after the Highlanders destroyed the Blues at scrum time just 15m out of their own goal-line.

57 mins:  BLUES 23 HIGHLANDERS 23

TRY! TJ Faiane straightens up the Blues attack and hits the Highlanders' defensive line at pace. He breaks through and offloads the ball to his fullback Melani Nanai who scores down the left hand corner.

Otere Black just misses his conversion attempt from out wide the scores remain level at 23-23.

54 mins:  BLUES 18 HIGHLANDERS 23

TRY! Harry Plummer makes a meal out of his exit kick from deep inside his own half. Highlanders left winger Tevita Li wins the aerial battle against Melani Nanai and Tanielu Tele'a to retrieve the ball and he races away to score the Highlanders' second try of the match.

Marty Banks is online with his conversion attempt out wide.

52 mins:  BLUES 18 HIGHLANDERS 16

THREE! Harry Plummer steps up and he is on target with his shot at goal from a difficult angle. He nails his penalty kick at goal from about 41m out.

48 mins:  BLUES 15 HIGHLANDERS 16

THREE! The Blues are penalised for not releasing the player at ruck time. Highlanders retake the lead after Marty Banks slots his penalty shot at goal from about 26m out.

43 mins:  BLUES 15 HIGHLANDERS 13

NO TRY! The Blues' number six Tom Robinson makes a great break from 40m out and he steps around Marty Banks before the grounding the ball under the goal posts. The referee goes upstairs to check whether Melani Nanai's offload wasn't forward, but the TMO rules that the pass was indeed a forward pass.

40 mins:  BLUES 15 HIGHLANDERS 13

And we are back underway! With Harry Plummer kicking short towards the Highlanders. The Blues manage to get the ball back.

HALFTIME -  BLUES 15 HIGHLANDERS 13

Both teams have had their moments in this match. Rieko Ioane has been on fire for the Blues, scoring two tries from long range. Highlanders' first-five Marty Banks has kept the scores close thanks to his trusty boot.

The Blues have been hot and cold at set piece time, with Harry Plummer now starting to find his radar with the boot after missing two kicks at goal early in the match.

If the Blues are to break their 19 game losing streak to New Zealand side's, they really need to cut down their mistakes and do better with their discipline at the breakdown. 

36 mins:  BLUES 15 HIGHLANDERS 13

THREE! Akira Ioane is penalised for being offside. Highlanders first-five Marty Banks steps up and nails a penalty kick from about 43m out in front of the goal posts and he closes the gap to just two-points.

33 mins:  BLUES 15 HIGHLANDERS 10

TRY! Melani Nanai puts on a big left foot step just inside his own half and splits the Highlanders defence open. He offloads the ball to TJ Faiane who manages to link up with Rieko Ioane who scores his second try of the match.

Harry Plummer is on target with his kick at goal and the Blues retake the lead.

29 mins:  BLUES 8 HIGHLANDERS 10

Highlanders fullback Ben Smith creates something out of nothing, he runs the ball out of his own 22. He beats several defenders before giving the ball to lock Tom Franklin. The Highlanders work the ball up into the Blues 22 but they unfortunately lose control of the ball. The Blues now have a scrum just outside their own 22m line.

25 mins:  BLUES 8 HIGHLANDERS 10

THREE! This time Harry Plummer nails his penalty shot at goal from about 25m out, an a easier anle at goal.

22 mins:  BLUES 5 HIGHLANDERS 10

MISS! Blues' Harry Plummer misses his penalty shot at goal from a difficult angle and from over 40m out.

Blues centre Ma’a Nonu in action against the Crusaders. Source: Photosport

17 mins:  BLUES 5 HIGHLANDERS 10

TRY! The Highlanders pour on the pressure at scrum time and Luke Whitelock crashes over to score from 5m out for the visitors' first try of the match.

Marty Banks makes no mistake with the conversion.

9 mins:  BLUES 5 HIGHLANDERS 3

TRY! Rieko Ioane goes all the way himself! The Blues win their own line-out around halfway and Ioane bursts through a massive gap in the Highlanders' defensive line. He has only Waisake Naholo to beat and he steps around him before diving over the try-line.

Harry Plummer's kick at goal is offline.

3 mins:  BLUES 0 HIGHLANDERS 3

THREE! The Blues are penalised for not rolling away in a tackle and Marty Banks slots a 40m penalty kick at goal for the Highlanders.

BLUES 0 HIGHLANDERS 0

KICK-OFF! Marty Banks gets things started with a deep kick off towards the Blues.

PRE-MATCH:

The Highlanders have lost their last two Super Rugby fixtures, with the Blues earning their first win of 2019 over the Sunwolves two weeks ago, 28-20.

Harry Plummer gets the nod to start at first-five for the Blues, with Ma'a Nonu partnering up with TJ Faiane in the midfield.

All Blacks flanker Shannon Frizell returns to Super Rugby action and bolsters the Highlanders already stacked forward pack.

The Blues have opted to name All Blacks forwards Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Karl Tu'inukuafe and Patrick Tuipulotu on the bench.

Marty Banks gets his first shot to start at first-five for the Highlanders, with fullback Ben Smith and number eight Luke Whitelock named
to co-captain the side.

The Blues haven't beaten a New Zealand Super Rugby side in their last 20 fixtures against Kiwi sides. With the Highlanders winning six of their last seven encounters against the Blues.

TEAM:

Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tanielu Tele’a, 13 TJ Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodue, 4 Gerard Crowley-Tuioti, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Reserves: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Augustine Pule, 22 Otere Black, 23 Levi Aumua/Matt Duffie.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Sio Tomkinson, 12 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (co-captain), 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.

Reserves: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Josh Ioane, 23 Richard Buckman.


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