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RugbyU: Blues dismiss green image to down Hurricanes

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

The new-look Auckland Blues produced an upset in their first outing of the season with a 34-20 win over the Wellington Hurricanes in their Super 15 match on Saturday.

Much of the pre-season talk in New Zealand conference circles had been that the Blues would struggle under new coach John Kirwan and with more than half the squad new to Super Rugby.

The Hurricanes on the other hand made the least changes of any New Zealand franchise in the off-season, yet they lacked cohesion.

The well-conditioned Blues led early from a Piri Weepu penalty, and after falling behind on the scoreboard came back to claim victory with 15 unanswered points in the closing 10 minutes.

However, new captain and veteran All Blacks lock Ali Williams downplayed the significance of the win in their first game.

"I'm proud but that's just one game out of many," he said, adding next week's home match against the Canterbury Crusaders may be a better marker of where his side is at.

The first half was a typical early season affair with repeated handling errors from both sides and a tendency by the Hurricanes backs to run across the field.

After Weepu's first penalty, Beauden Barrett slotted two penalties for the Hurricanes to put them in front 6-3, before former sevens star Frank Halai scored the opening try for the Blues.

Minutes later Julian Savea replied for the Hurricanes and Barrett added the conversion. Weepu then kicked a second penalty for the Blues giving the Wellington side a half-time lead of 13-11.

The Blues started the second half strongly, regaining the lead with a Charles Piutau try, only to give it away again by conceding a penalty try when Halai was sin-binned for knocking the ball over the deadball line as Savea raced in for a possible touchdown.

Despite a one-man advantage the Hurricanes were unable to score again, while Halai scored on his return to the game, Ranger added the bonus point try and Weepu landed a conversion and a third penalty.

cf/ami

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130223/rugbyu-blues-dismiss-green-image-down-hurricanes