Blues beat Reds 34-29 in first Super Rugby match in Samoa
Replacement flyhalf Stephen Perofeta scored the winning try on debut to help the Blues beat the Queensland Reds 34-29 in the first Super Rugby match in Samoa on Friday.
The Blues led 20-12 after a dominant first half but the lead changed hands four times in a second half in which the Reds made most of the play. Perofeta converted his own try in the 74th minute for the win.
Until the final minutes, the Reds had good cause to believe they were going to become the first Australian team to beat a New Zealand opponent in 19 matches this season. After a bad start in which they conceded two tries in the first eight minutes, they improved steadily and went to halftime with the match still in the balance.
They then scored 10 straight points after halftime, including a try to Adam Korczyk, to hit the front for the first time at 22-20.
The Blues regained the lead with a try to lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti but the Reds immediately snatched back the advantage with the second try of the match to Tongan-born but Auckland-educated prop Taniela Tupou, known as the Tongan Thor.
That might have been the last word but a massively under-strength Blues side found the means to retrieve the lead when slick backline work sent Melani Nanai on a long run down the left touchline. When Nanai cut infield and was caught on the line, Perofeta was in support.
The Blues left at home many of their senior players - the play the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park on Wednesday - and picked a lineup which was young and untested. The result was a flustered and error-ridden performance which was only just good enough to seal the win.
"It was closer than we would like but we brought a group up here that we wanted to blood for next year, and they can hold their heads up high," Blues captain James Parsons said.