The Blues held on to beat a defiant Reds side in the first-ever Investec Super Rugby match in Samoa.
And they did it with a radically different team to the one that tied with the Chiefs at Eden Park last week. One of those changes, Rene Ranger made up for lost time by racing over the try line just three minutes into the match.
Rieko Ioane added to his considerable tally of tries for the season not long after that, finishing off a spectacular attacking play that spanned nearly 50m and three other Blues players.
The Reds hit back via the so-called ‘Tongan Thor’, former Sacred Heart College prop Taniela Tupou, who burrowed over from right in front. The momentum of the match threatened to shift in favour of the Queenslanders, before Kara Pryor scored from a rolling maul.
The Reds answered back with a try from their rolling maul, before Piers Francis kicked a penalty, making the score 20-12 at halftime. Though it was only eight-point game, the Blues dominated territory and possession in the first half.
It was the opposite in the second, as handling errors started to creep into the Blues’ game, stunting their attack and gifting the Reds opportunities inside their own territory. As a result, the Australian side soon clawed back the deficit and took the lead for the first time.
With pressure mounting, and momentum well and truly on the side of the Reds, Blues lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti scored a stunning try from broken play. Debutant Stephen Perofeta converted it, scoring his first points for the club in the process.
But when the Tongan Thor got his second try of the night, the Reds went back out in front with 15 minutes to go. Things were looking dire, until Melani Nanai pulled off a sensational miracle play, racing 75m to set up Perofeta, who converted his own try.
That proved the difference, with the TMO denying Akira Ioane a try just before fulltime.
The team will now turn its attention to yet another historic rugby match, this time against the visiting British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on Wednesday 7 June. Purchase tickets here.
Blues 34 (Tries – Ranger, R.Ioane, Pryor, Cowley-Tuioti, Perofeta; Conversions – Francis, Perofeta 2; Penalties – Francis)
Reds 29 (Tries – T.Tupou 2, Ready, Korczyk; Conversions – Cooper 3; Penalties – Cooper)