Rugby: Blues snatch last-gasp victory

The Blues levelled their pre-season ledger after a last-gasp Peter Saili try snatched a 40-36 victory over the Waratahs in Whangarei today.

After losing 41-35 to the Reds in Toowoomba last weekend, Sir John Kirwan's side continued their pre-season preparations with another high-scoring affair.

Kirwan will be pleased by the performance of his dynamic young backs as he aims to right a ship which went horribly awry in 2012.

New captain Ali Williams also made a solid start in his first action of the year, contributing some big hits in defence and running well with the ball before being substituted at the break.

Northland local Rene Ranger always threatened with ball in hand and created a number of try-scoring opportunities, while Culum Retallick, George Moala and Chris Noakes all returned to action following injuries.

"I was really happy with their courage and commitment today," Kirwan said. "We did some really good things.

"We went away from our systems a wee bit but then worked really hard. We hung in there and never gave up so they're all things that you can be proud of."

After taking a 12-7 halftime lead through tries to young winger Lolagi Visinia and No 8 Saili, code-hopper Israel Folau's introduction to the game had an immediate impact as he set up two tries and crossed himself with a sensational solo effort.

After Blues prop Tom Perry dotted down, Waisake Naholo notched two tries to put the Blues ahead before Tom Kingston's third try of the afternoon appeared to clinch victory for the visitors with just minutes left on the clock.

But Saili bashed his way over from close range to clinch the win after the siren had sounded and send home the 5000-strong Northland crowd on a high.

The Blues will complete their pre-season preparations against the Highlanders in Queenstown on Friday.

Blues 40 (Saili 2, Naholo 2, Visinia, Perry tries; Nikoro con, Kerr 4 con), Waratahs 36 (Kingston 3, Crawford, Holloway, Folau tries; McKibbin con, Foley con, Lucas con). HT: 12-7.


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