The Blues Development team kicked off their season with a last minute, 33-27 victory over the Chiefs Development team at Bruce Pulman Park last night.
A spectacular show of skill from Lolagi Visinia saw the winger run in four tries, the final one coming in the last play of the game to seal the result.
Visinia nabbed his first two in the closing minutes of the first half to give the Blues a 19-15 advantage at the break after trailing for most of the opening spell.
It was the home team, the Chiefs, that opened the scoring with quick hands across the park seeing centre Jordan Payne crash over for a try.
The Blues were able to bounce back almost immediately. Returning a long clearing kick from the Chiefs, loose forwards Dan Pryor, Sean Polwart and Dillon Wihongi combined to show great handling and put Joe Macilai away down the wing.
The try went unconverted and the scores were level, 5 all early in the half.
The Blues spent a lot of time on defence throughout the first spell, veteran Hayden Triggs was immensely physical while Pryor and Polwart also made their presence felt with uncompromising performances.
The Chiefs converted a penalty midway through the spell before extending their lead further.
On the back of a Blues knock on, the Chiefs had an attacking scrum 30 metres out from the try line. Chiefs halfback Jono Kitto ran to the blind and put Rota Setu away in the corner. The Chiefs led 15-5.
Looking to head into the break behind, Visinia sparked the Blues into action with just minutes left in the half.
Bumping off several would-be defenders down the left flank, he cruised over the try line for his first, Baden Kerr converted to close the deficit to 12-15.
The Blues were back on attack immediately from the kick off, this time Visinia put up a chip kick, juggled the re gather and ran untouched over the try line. Again converted by Kerr, the Blues went into the sheds up 19-15.
The Chiefs forwards rolled into action in the second half, scoring two, almost identical tries.
Both as a result of Blues indiscretions, the Chiefs looked to the sideline for the line out and crafted two impressive rolling mauls, Joe Royal and Carl Axtens recipients of the points which put the Chiefs out to a 27-19 advantage.
The wrong side of a mounting penalty count, the Blues were forced to make countless tackles in the second spell.
The Blues nabbed some points back, again courtesy of Visinia, this time a quick tap from a penalty caught the Chiefs off guard and the flying winger was too fast for their reactions. Matt McGahan converted to make it a one point ball game, the Chiefs leading 27-26.
The Blues showed plenty of vigour late in the match, trying to claw back the score line, instead it looked as though it was the Chiefs that would benefit as Bryn Gatland lined up a late penalty shot.
The shot was on target but bounced off the posts. The Blues pounced, Marty Swart and Melani Nanai combining to make quick metres and putting the Blues in attacking position.
A number of controlled phases saw play makes its way to the 22 before Pryor threw a huge pass out to the wing and Visinia, as he had done all evening, ran over the whitewash for the five pointer, and the win.
“You can’t coach tries like that one at the end, that was outstanding,” said coach Steve Jackson.
“You could see it when we scored that last try how happy the team was, it means a lot – the enthusiasm and the energy was there for 80 minutes.”
Jackson noted the penalty count did not go in favour of the Blues but feels it is an easy fix.
“It’s one of those issues that happens around the ruck – it’s about taking that extra step back and looking at your entry, it’s a learning curve for our guys.”
The two teams meet again on April 2nd.
Blues Development 33 (L Visinia 4, J Macilai 1 try, B Kerr 2 con, M McGahan 2 con)
Chiefs Development 27 (J Payne, R Setu, J Royal, C Axtens tries, D Hollinshead 1 pen, 1 con, B Gatland 1 con)