Blues' unbeaten run ends against Bulls

19:35, Mar 10 2013
Blues v Hurricanes
But dad!...Piri Weepu's daughter Keira doesn't look too happy about sharing in her fathers 100th Super Rugby game celebrations.
Blues v Hurricanes
Blues No 8 Peter Saili breaks away during the win over the Hurricanes.
Blues v Hurricanes
Frank Halai shows his control to touch down for a try in the Blues opening win over the Hurricanes.
Blues v Hurricanes
Francis Saili makes a break during the Blues win over the Hurricanes.
Ali Williams
Ali Williams lays down the law to Chris Noakes (centre) and George Moala.
Luke Braid
Luke Braid celebrates during the Blues win over the Crusaders.
Rene Ranger
Rene Ranger breaks the line for the Blues.
Blues fans
Blues fans show support for their team.
Blues vs Bulls
Liaki Moli of The Blues gets caught in a ruck during the Super Rugby game between The Blues and The Bulls.
Blues vs Bulls
Charlie Faumuina on the attack for the Blues.
Blues vs Bulls
Francis Saili looks to pass for the Blues.
Blues vs Bulls
Jurgen Visser of the Bulls and Marty McKenzie of the Blues compete for the ball.
Blues 2013 Season
Brodie Retallick and his cousin Culum Retallick during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Blues 2013 Season
Ali Williams of the Blues wins lineout ball during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Blues 2013 Season
Luke Braid of the Blues charges forward during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Blues 2013 Season
Rene Ranger of the Blues is tipped upside down during the round seven Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues at Bay Park.
Blues v Highlanders
Anthony Boric prepares for the tackle during the Blues' win over the Highlanders.
Blues v Highlanders
Ali Williams and Kevin Mealamu discuss a plan during the Blues' 29-18 win over the Highlanders.
Blues v Highlanders
Former teammates Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu share a laugh on field.
Blues v Highlanders
Steven Luatua dives over for a try against the Highlanders.
Blues v Highlanders
Piri Weepu celebrates scoring his second try against the Highlanders.
Blues v Hurricanes
James Parson gets past Beauden Barrett to score for the Blues.
Blues v Hurricanes
Piri Weepu gets a pass off as the Blues beat the Hurricanes at Eden Park.
Blues v Hurricanes
Blues captain Ali Williams has a laugh with his side on top.
Blues v Hurricanes
Rene Ranger, Charles Piutau and Andre Taylor clash trying to grab a high ball.
Blues v Reds
Kevin Mealamu hands the ball off to Piri Weepu during the Blues loss to the Reds in Queensland.
Blues v Reds
Rene Ranger tries to fend off the tackle of Jake Schatz.
Blues v Reds
Chris Noakes gets a pass away during the loss to the Reds.
Blues v Reds
Albert Nikora is tackled by James Slipper and Rob Simmons.
Blues season 2013
Steven Luatua of the Blues charges into the Stormers' Andries Bekker during their clash at North Harbour Stadium.
Blues season 2013
Bryan Habana of the Stormers is smashed by the Blues defence during their Round 12 clash.
Blues season 2013
Blues second row Culum Retallick takes a breather during the Super Rugby clash with the Stormers at North Harbour Stadium.
Blues v Cheetahs
Luke Braid jumps over the tackle from the Rebels' Mitch Inman.
Blues v Cheetahs
Rebel Scott Higginbotham looks to kick the ball ahead against Jamison Gibson-Park.
Blues v Cheetahs
Steven Luatua fends off the tackle of Rebel Bryce Hegarty.
Blues v Cheetahs
Francis Saili is mobbed by teammates after scoring a try during the Blues' win over the Cheetahs.
Blues v Cheetahs
Frank Halai dives over for a try against the Cheetahs.
Blues gallery 2013
George Moala charges into the Crusaders defence.
Blues gallery 2013
Frank Halai on the charge against the Crusaders.
Blues gallery 2013
Culum Retallick makes a pass for the Blues against the Crusaders.
Blues gallery 2013
Piri Weepu is closely watched by opposite number Andy Ellis.
Blues gallery 2013
George Moala in action against the Brumbies.
Blues gallery 2013
Rene Ranger on the charge for the Blues against the Brumbies.
Blues gallery 2013
Charles Piutau makes a charge against the Brumbies.
Blues gallery 2013
Ali Williams (centre) lays down the law to his players.
Blues season 2013
Jackson Willison of the Blues is brought down during the round 16 Super Rugby clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Blues season 2013
Blues captain Ali Williams and coach Sir John Kirwan discuss their disappointing loss to the Highlanders.
Blues season 2013
Anthony Boric of the Blues competes with Mose Tuiali'i of the Highlanders in the lineout.
Blues season 2013
Frank Halai makes the hard yards for the Blues against the Highlanders.
Blues gallery
Steven Luatua of the Blues in action during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
Jean Deysel of the Sharks continues play without his shirt during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
Frank Halai of the Blues goes over for a try during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
Chris Noakes of the Blues in action during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
George Moala of the Blues in action during the Super Rugby match between The Sharks and Blues from Growthpoint Kings Park.
Blues gallery
Francis Saili of the Blues fends off Philip van der Walt of the Cheetahs.
Blues gallery
Steven Luatua of the Blues goes for the high ball during their match against the Cheetahs.
Blues gallery
Francis Saili of the Blues in action during their game against the Cheetahs.
Blues gallery
Frank Halai of the Blues in action during their game against the Cheetahs.
Blues v Chiefs
Departing Ali Williams shares a laugh with coach Sir John Kirwan after his last game for the Blues.
Blues v Chiefs
Marty McKenzie in action for the Blues during their season finale loss to the Chiefs.
Blues v Chiefs
Piri Weepu gets a flying pass away during the Blues' loss to the Chiefs.
Blues v Chiefs
Charles Piutau chases the ball down to score for the Blues.
Blues v Chiefs
Kane Barrett leaves the field after a red card against the Chiefs.

It was too little, too late from the Blues as they ran smack-bang into a Bulls-sized reality check at Eden Park today.

In front of 25,112 fans on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Sir John Kirwan's Blues found the big South Africans just too much to handle as they sunk to a 28-21 defeat - their first of the Super Rugby season.

A late try to Rene Ranger briefly raised the home team's hopes of a comeback victory as they closed to within four points, at 21-25, but an 80th-minute penalty to Morne Steyn sealed the Bulls' first ever victory on Eden Park.

The Bulls, with their outstanding pack denying the Blues the possession they had feasted on over the previous fortnight, were well worthy of their three tries to two victory which makes them three for three for the new season.

Both teams came into this match with their confidence high after a couple of wins, but it was the Bulls who imprinted their style and game-plan on to proceedings the better.

With No 8 Pierre Spies leading a brilliant loose forward trio and the back three of Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane and Lione Mapoe enjoying perfect conditions, the visitors dominated for long periods.

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Kirwan had made six changes to his in-form side and in the end this probably hadn't done the Blues any favours as they struggled to settle into a rhythm in this match until it was too late.

The Bulls had led 15-6 at the break, wings Mapoe and Ndungane crossing for the only tries of the half.

Mapoe's came just inside the opening quarter when Ndungane did very well to retrieve a high kick, the big visiting forwards rumbled it up and the wing was put across in the left corner.

Five minutes later new Blues No 10 Baden Kerr paid dearly for a loose kick which saw the Bulls stretch out to their nine-point halftime lead.

Impressive Bulls flanker Deon Stegmann gathered the charged down ball and headed upfield. Eventually possession was shifted right, and Kirchner's flat pass put his wing one-on-one with Waisake Naholo, and that was no contest at all.

The Blues rattled off 10 straight points inside the first quarter of an hour of the second spell to lead 16-15 on the back of Kerr's third penalty and a very well-taken try by fullback Charles Piutau wide on the left.

But that just steeled the Bulls.

Three minutes later flanker Arno Botha crossed wide on the left, after another fabulous break up the middle by Ndungane, and when Morne Steyn added his second penalty soon after the South Africans led 25-16.

Halfback Jano Vermaak nearly made the game safe a dozen minutes from time but just lost the ball as he reached for the line, before Ranger raised home hopes four minutes from the end when he was put clear by Francis Saili and bumped off Kirchner for the five-pointer.

But at 21-25 in arrears the Blues needed things to fall their way over the final few minutes, which didn't happen as Steven Luatua was bundled into touch and Steyn applied the finishing touch with his boot.

The Blues now have a bye to reassess things. They hinted at their ability, but just weren't able to establish the possession platforms to give those backs of theirs the opportunities they would have liked on a sunny afternoon.

At Eden Park:

Bulls 28 (Lionel Mapoe, Akpona Ndugane, Arno Botha tries; Morne Steyn 3 pens 2 cons),

Blues 21 (Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger tries; Baden Kerr 3pens, con). Ht: 15-6.

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