Blues make it three in a row

Rieko Ioane runs in to score for the Blues against the Stormers. Photo: Getty
Rieko Ioane runs in to score for the Blues against the Stormers. Photo: Getty
The Blues survived a late red card to wing Tanielu Tele'a to hit the rare heights of three wins in a row and a place at the business end of the Super Rugby table.

Their 24-9 victory over the Stormers at Eden Park last night wasn't without its trials – the biggest of which was Tele'a's sending off for a tip tackle with 10 minutes remaining.

Tele'a, his eyes on the ball launched high into the night sky, only saw the leaping Dillyn Leyds at the last second but was adjudged to have caused the Stormers wing to land dangerously on his upper back.

It was an unfortunate way for try scorer Tele'a to finish his evening because he was very good, and unfortunately he will now have to face a judiciary with the potential for more time off.

"We weren't anticipating a happy last 10 minutes with a man off the pitch and you could see the onslaught coming, so to turn that around and score and take it out of reach was pleasing," a relieved coach Leon MacDonald said afterwards.

"And to keep them out at end – we could have easily conceded a try there. It showed it mattered and we didn't let them in. It was very pleasing."

MacDonald added of the collision which sent the little Leyds flying: "He [Tele'a] was too deep and obviously he was trying to make up too much ground. It's pretty hard to stop dead, obviously.

"It's a tricky one for Tanielu, who has been playing some outstanding rugby. Hopefully it doesn't dent his confidence – it wasn't [out of] malice or intentional, it was just one of those unfortunate things."

Tele'a said afterwards: "It was an unintentional collision. I apologised straight away. I guess that's just rugby, sometimes things just happen. I hope he's all good."

Rather than being hindered by the numerical disadvantage, the Blues again finished stronger than their opponents – the men from Cape Town looking tired and out of ideas at the end of it.

It was made safe by Rieko Ioane – who else – who scored a converted try with five minutes remaining. He now has seven in three games – and, with the pack again fronting up and Sonny Bill Williams making a big impact, the Blues had too much quality for the visitors.

After three straight losses to start the season the Blues have won their last three and are now the third-ranked New Zealand team and, astonishingly, sixth overall.

They host the Waratahs next weekend and the biggest selection question will be whether wing Ioane, due for an All Black-enforced rest, is available. He probably won't be.

They finished well but it took what seemed like an age for the Blues to get going, and it was Tele'a who got them started with a try from a set lineout move which could hardly have gone better.

While the breach was made by Ioane, Tele'a had plenty to do from 50m out. He did it with pace but also two brilliantly timed fends on two Springbok backs; first on second-five Damian de Allende and then wing Leyds.

With the Stormers taking every opportunity to rest, the visitors never looked likely to overhaul the Blues once they were 17-9 up, although they survived a scare when Josh Stander was over for a try eventually ruled out due to a clear forward pass by prop Steven Kitshoff.

Tom Robinson went close in the left corner before Otere Black scored a superb try under the posts from an attacking scrum which owed plenty to Williams' angled run and offload.

The Stormers got close to the Blues' line in the final minute – a try would have denied the home side their first winning bonus point of the season.

But MacDonald's men weren't to be denied. For them and their season the future looks increasingly bright.

Blues 24 (Tanielu Tele'a, Otere Black, Rieko Ioane tries; Black 3 cons, pen), Stormers 9 (Jean-Luc du Plessis 3 pens). Halftime: 10-6

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