Blues stylish in first road win in 16 months

19:55, Jun 28 2014
2014 Blues season
Tom Donnelly on the charge against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
2014 Blues season
Chris Noakes of the Blues, centre, is hit hard by Brad Thorn, left.
2014 Blues season
A bloodied Peter Saili shows his battle scars from the clash with the Highlanders.
2014 Blues season
Benji Marshall, right, made his Super Rugby debut for the Blues in Dunedin. Here he is grappling for the ball with Highlander Richard Buckman.
Keven Mealamu and Benji Marshall
Keven Mealamu congratulates Benji Marshall after the Blues' dominant victory over the Crusaders.
Simon Hickey
Super Rugby rookie Simon Hickey kicks the ball clear.
Frank Halai
Blues wing Frank Halai is tackled by Crusaders prop Tim Perry.
George Moala
George Moala breaks through the Crusaders defence.
Steven Luatua
Steven Luatua is shown a yellow card by referee Garrett Williamson.
Blues 2014 season
Tom Donnelly of the Blues, far right, fires out a pass under pressure from the Bulls' chasers.
Blues 2014 season
James Parsons of the Blues, centre, leads a team talk during his side's clash with the Bulls in South Africa.
Blues 2014 season
Blues halfback Piri Weepu goes searching for the ball against the Bulls.
Piri Weepu of the Blues
Blues lock Liaki Moli in action against the Bulls.
Frank Halai
Blues wing Frank Halai is pulled down short of the try line.
George Moala
George Moala flings a pass back in-field as he's grabbed by the ankle.
Simon Hickey
Substitute first-five Simon Hickey gets a Blues attacking move started.
Luke Braid
Luke Braid crashes into a Lions player in Johannesburg.
Charles Piutau
Charles Piutau drags a Lions player with him, as Benji Marshall and Chris Noakes support.
2014 Blues season
Charles Piutau makes a break for the Blues against the Highlanders at Eden Park.
2014 Blues season
Benji Marshall of the Blues takes on the Highlanders defence.
2014 Blues season
Young Blues first five Simon Hickey lines up a kick at goal against the Highlanders at Eden Park.
2014 Blues season
Former All Black Jerome Kaino made a winning return to the Blues against the Highlanders.
2014 Blues season
Joe Tomane of the Brumbies tackles Blues wing Charles Piutau as the teams square off in Canberra.
2014 Blues season
Blues flanker Steven Luatua tries to get to grips with the Brumbies' Pat McCabe.
2014 Blues season
Blues halfback Bryn Hall spins a lovely pass from a ruck during his team's clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.
2014 Blues season
Benji Marshall has a cut at the Brumbies defence in Canberra.
2014 Blues season
Bryn Hall of the Blues runs the ball during their round ten match against the Hurricanes.
2014 Blues season
George Moala of the Blues is tackled by Dane Coles of the Hurricanes.
2014 Blues season
Chris Noakes of the Blues is tackled by Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes.
2014 Blues season
Jerome Kaino of the Blues is tackled by Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes.
2014 Blues season
Jerome Kaino of the Blues charges forward during their match against the Waratahs.
2014 Blues season
Peter Saili of the Blues offloads the ball in the tackle of Michael Hooper of the Waratahs.
2014 Blues season
Luke Braid of the Blues is tackled by Dave Dennis of the Waratahs.
2014 Blues season
Piri Weepu of the Blues during their match against the Waratahs.
2014 Blues season
Flanker Jerome Kaino looks a beaten man during the Blues' loss to the Chiefs in New Plymouth.
2014 Blues season
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan gives his side some instruction in New Plymouth.
2014 Blues season
Blues centre Ma'a Nonu spins a pass out under pressure from the Chiefs' Bundee Aki.
2014 Blues season
Blues winger Frank Halai makes a charge against the Chiefs at Yarrow Stadium.
Blues 2014 season
Lolagi Visinia of the Blues charges at the Reds defence at Eden Park.
Blues 2014 season
Blues centre George Moala sends Kiwi-born Reds playmaker Quade Cooper crashing to the ground.
Blues 2014 season
Blues No 10 Simon Hickey is tackled by the Reds' Jake Schatz during their teams' clash at Eden Park in Auckland.
2014 Blues season
Ihaia West of the Blues is congratulated by teammate Steven Luatua after scoring a try against the Reds at Eden Park.
Ma'a Nonu
Ma'a Nonu (left) celebrates with team mate George Moala after a try during the round 17 Super Rugby match between the Force and the Blues at nib Stadium in Perth.
Peter Saili
Peter Saili of the Blues is tackled during his side's round 17 Super Rugby match against the Force.
Ma'a Nonu
Blues second-five Ma'a Nonu is tackled during his side's win over the Force in Perth.
Dane Haylett-Petty
Dane Haylett-Petty of the Force is smashed by the Blues defence during a Super Rugby meeting between the two sides in round 17.
Steven Luatua
Steven Luatua of the Blues is tackled during his side's win over the Force in Perth.
Ma'a Nonu
Blues star Ma'a Nonu is tackled by Dan Carter of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Andy Ellis
Andy Ellis, centre, of the Crusaders is tackled by Blues players Tony Woodcock (left) and Luke Braid (right) during his side's win in Christchurch.
Dominic Bird
Crusaders lock Dominic Bird powers through a number of would-be Blues defenders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Nemani Nadolo
Nemani Nadolo of the Crusaders dives over to score a try against the Blues in round 18.
Dan Carter
Crusaders second-five Dan Carter is tackled by All Blacks team-mate and Blues prop Tony Woodcock.
Jerome Kaino
Jerome Kaino of the Blues is tackled by Andy Ellis of the Crusaders during their round 18 Super Rugby match in Christchurch.
Jerome Kaino
Jerome Kaino bruising as ever in the Blues' round 19 Super Rugby match against the Chiefs.
Jerome Kaino
Keven Mealamu runs onto the pitch ahead of the Blues' final match of the Super Rugby season.
Jerome Kaino
Charles Piutau on a spirited run in the Blues' round 19 Super Rugby match against the Chiefs.
Jerome Kaino
Blues players Francis Saili, Ma'a Nonu, Bryn Hall, Jerome Kaino and Sam Prattley look dejected after losing their last game of the Super Rugby season.
Jerome Kaino
Blues fans felt dejected too.

The Blues first away win in 16 months still leaves them on borrowed time, but New Zealand's original Super Rugby standard bearer at least kept their slender title hopes alive by ending the Western Force's five-match unbeaten streak in Perth.

Needing to win their three remaining games when the competition resumed after the June test window, the Blues cleared the first obstacle at nib Stadium with a stylish 40-14 - victory that boosts them from 10th to eighth at the close of an abbreviated round.

The inclusion of six All Blacks involved in the clean-sweep over England earlier this month easily counteracted the return of a half dozen Force personnel from injury - including former All Black halfback Alby Mathewson.

A coveted four-try bonus point enhanced the Blues first win on Australian soil since 2012 - and first road win since beating the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium on February 23 last year.

The Blues focus is now on their remaining games against the Crusaders and Chiefs, plus other outcomes, as they strive to sneak into the finals for the first time since 2011.

On the strength of last night's performance they could be a dangerous opponent should they make the cut - the test break was hardly detrimental as the Blues produced a fine all-round effort to increase their point tally to 36.

"Everyone knows we've struggled away for a year and a bit. It was good just to start well," said Blues captain Luke Braid.

"We got some points on the board, the boys felt comfortable and we got into the Blues rhythm and started playing rugby."

The Force were condemned to catch up mode from just the 18th minute - a scenario that doesn't suit their no frills game plan - after the Blues made a scintillating start with a scoring blitz that should have the Crusaders nervous ahead of Saturday's clash in Christchurch.

Four sparkling tries inside the opening quarter had the bonus point locked down as Ihaia West, Charlie Faumuina, Lolagi Visinia and Ma'a Nonu capitalised on a totally dominant performance by the Blues loose trio.

Rookie first five-eighth West crossed in the fifth minute after Visinia chipped ahead after halfback Bryn Hall found the fullback with an astute cross kick; Faumuina was unstoppable from close range once former teammate Alby Mathewson had a clearance charged down, then a Steven Luatua turnover set Visinia's straight burst to the corner in motion.

Nonu, easily the most experienced member of the Blues exciting back division completed the bonus point -yielding play when he brushed aside Sias Ebersohn and Jayden Hayward, to set the scene for a potential rout.

However, the Force dominated the remainder of the half territorially and possession-wise yet had no tangible reward at the break thanks to a defensive effort from the Blues that proved they were unwilling to rest on their laurels.

The Force enjoyed 95 per cent of possession for a 10-minute period but were unable to crack a resolute - and occasionally borderline - alignment that drew a warning from Australian referee Rohan Hoffman at the half hour mark.

Undeterred, the Blues continued to frustrate the Force at close quarters while the damage was also self-inflicted as botched lineouts, scrum infringements and lax ball security dashing any hopes of a comeback.

The Blues 26-point advantage was their biggest lead at halftime since 2008 and although Tom Donnelly was sacrificed in the 47th minute after Hoffman finally tired of the visitors' indiscretions they scored their fifth try - to skipper Luke Braid - while a man down.

Blindside flanker Luatua, who is seeking to rediscover the form that earned him All Black status last year, opened the second half with a turnover to encapsulate the Force's woes - and the Blues' strength - while Jerome Kaino was also impressive during his 56-minute shift.

Nonu was also rested soon after with the result beyond doubt but the bench maintained the Blues high standards although hooker Nathan Charles broke the Force's duck in the 65th minute, a consolation try that raised the biggest cheer since cult hero Nick Cummins - a late withdrawal with a neck injury - was shown on the big screen.

The Force will be hoping the Wallabies wing is available to face the Reds next Saturday, where a drastic improvement is required if they are to qualify for the play-offs for the first time since joining the competition in 2006.

Centre Pita Ahki raised the possibility of the Blues record a their biggest winning margin against the Force, but in the final minute replacement forward Brynard Stander ensured a 31-point loss in their first ever game remains the low point.

Blues 40 (Ihaia West, Charlie Faumuina, Lolagi Visinia, Ma Nonu, Luke Braid, Pita Ahki tries; West 5 con) Western Force 14 (Nathan Charles, Brynard Stander tries; Jayden Hayward 2 con). HT: 26-0

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Steven Luatua
ROAD WARRIORS: Steven Luatua is dragged down during the Blues' 40-14 victory over the Western Force in Perth, the Auckland side's first road win since February, 2013.

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