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Blues defence sends Chiefs to seventh successive defeat

WELLINGTON, July 26 – The Auckland Blues got back on the winning path as they sent the Waikato Chiefs crashing to an unwanted record with a 21-17 victory in a defensively focussed Super Rugby Aotearoa clash at Eden Park on Sunday.

The Blues produced a massive defensive effort on their goal line in the final five minutes to preserve a win that moved them to 17 competition points, two behind the table-topping Canterbury Crusaders, who have a game in hand.

The Crusaders suffered their first loss of the domestic competition on Saturday, when the Wellington Hurricanes beat them 34-32 in Christchurch.

Both the Blues and Chiefs were desperate heading into the match to arrest their respective slides with the Auckland side having lost their last two games after winning the first three.

The Chiefs were in even more dire straits, having lost their last six games across both Super Rugby and the domestic competition and Sunday’s defeat was a team-record seventh in succession.

The home side, with Beauden Barrett in his preferred position of flyhalf, looked the most dangerous as they raced out to a 14-0 lead courtesy of converted tries to Matt Duffie and captain Patrick Tuipulotu.

The Chiefs, however, helped by a succession of penalties against the Blues, gradually began to build sustained pressure but were held out by a staunch defence and only had a try to Lachlan Boshier to show for all of their first-half endeavour.

Solomon Alaimalo tied the game up after he finished off a sweeping movement in which Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden and Anton Lienert-Brown combined beautifully for an attack down the blind side early in the second.

Damian McKenzie gave the Chiefs the lead for the first time when he slotted a penalty three minutes later before Blues scrumhalf Finlay Christie grabbed the advantage back with the home side’s third try.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury Editing by Robert Birsel)

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