It took five minutes after the hooter for the Blues to chalk up their first bonus victory of the season with a 34-18 win over the Kings at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
A turnover five minutes after the siren had sounded and a slick back pass by Billy Guyton led to a try for Tevita Li. It was the fifth by the Blues with two for the plucky home side for the five-point win.
It was the first bonus point for the three clear tries this season for the Blues and their first win away from home since the Force in Perth nearly two years ago.
While the Blues remain at the bottom of the New Zealand conference with five wins and a draw, their 25 points has then equal fifth on the Australasian table with the Brumbies and the Waratahs with a game in hand.
“We were fortunate to get the monkey off our back with an away win and big ups for George Moala in his 50th game for the Blues tonight,” said man of the match, Steven Luatua.
The Blues flew down from their altitude-base in Johannesburg looking for typically hard and fast conditions to be greeted with cold and wet weather.
They started well with a try after eight minutes to skipper James Parsons from a lineout drive but they gave up a try under the sticks to James Hall after a turnover by the Kings as the Blues worked out from their line.
Two copy-cat tries to Melani Nanai, coming off the shoulder of Ihaia West from attacking lineouts, gave the visitors a 19-10 halftime lead.
The Blues pack made plenty of gains in the open and created attacking chances from the lineout, although some handling errors in the backs cost them further try-scoring opportunities.
The home side showed more bristle upfront in the second half, rushing up on defence and cutting off the go-forward ball for much of the second half, and they were rewarded with a barging try from close quarters to Edgar Marutlulle 13 minutes into the second half.
A long range Jurgen Visser penalty brought the Kings to within four points but the Blues then reasserted themselves with replacement halfback Billy Guyton scoring under the posts after a scrum tighthead.
The Kings pushed hard for a bonus point from a penalty after the hooter, but turned the ball over. The Blues showed purpose and persistence to work the possession upfield before the nifty sleight-of-hand by Guyton put Li into space and his typically angled run gave them the fifth try and a precious bonus point.
“We came here with a job to do but while it was not pretty, we keep chalking up the Ws. I hope sometime it will stick for the full 80 minutes,” said captain James Parsons.
“We will enjoy that win tonight and celebrate George’s 50th game for the Blues but we know we have a big test against the lions next week and will have to lift a game another level.”
Blues 34 (Melani Nanai 2, James Parsons, Billy Guyton, Tevita Li tries; Ihaia West 3 conversions, 1 penalty)
Kings 18 (James Hall, Edgar Marutlulle tries; Elgar Watts 1 conversion, 1 penalty, Jurgen Visser 1 penalty)
Courtesy of the Blues
Photo: Stan Blumberg