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Waratahs and Blues start with wins
Two of the favourites for the Super 14 crown get off to the right start.
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2008 14:54 GMT

Timana Tahu: Making an early impression in his new
sport [GALLO/GETTY]
New South Wales fullback Lachlan Turner scored a pair of tries Saturday as the Waratahs opened their Super 14 rugby season with a 20-3 win over the Wellington Hurricanes.

Former Australian rugby league test player Timana Tahu, making his Super 14 debut, was heavily involved in the first half, helping the Waratahs, who finished second-last in 2007, to a 10-3 lead.

The ball swept across the Waratahs' backline in the 18th minute and Tahu, playing on the left wing, caught and scooped in one motion to send Turner sprinting to the left corner.

Kurtley Beale's sideline conversion made it 7-0.

Former Newcastle and Parramatta star Tahu was picked up by South African referee Craig Joubert in the 28th minute when he aggressively grabbed Hurricanes fullback Cory Jane around the shoulders and sent him crashing over the sideline headfirst.

Hurricanes five-eighth Jimmy Gopperth narrowed the margin to 7-3 with a 23rd-minute penalty goal, while Beale responded with a Waratahs' penalty in the 36th.

Relief

A try by Rocky Elsom and Turner's second, in the 74th minute and again set up by Tahu, completed the scoring in the second half.

"Just to get Lachie (Turner) over the line, it was a bit more of a relief," Tahu said.

"I'm hoping to just keep on learning this year and hopefully the next couple of years I can be a big asset to the team."

Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie said Tahu was the best of his former league players.

"He's been the best in term of aptitude and application in trying to learn the game," McKenzie said.

"It's a tough game and positional play's really important. Every time he takes the field he's doing it better and better."

Joe Rokocoko: The first of many? [GALLO/GETTY]
Blues down Chiefs

Meanwhile, the Auckland Blues fully exploited Super 14 rugby's new rules to score two late tries, clinching a 32-14 win over the Waikato Chiefs.

All Blacks winger Joe Rokocoko and replacement center Ben Atiga both scored from scrums in the last quarter of the match, taking advantage of rules which require both attacking and defensive backlines to be back five metres from set pieces.

Rokocoko burst onto a short pass in the 61st minute when the Blues took a scrum from a free kick and sawed through a deep and flat-footed Chiefs defence to give his team a 22-14 lead after it had trailed 11-8 at halftime.

Former All Black Atiga scored in the 73rd minute when fullback Isa Nacewa made full use of the space offered around the scrum, changing the direction of an attack, wrong-footing the defense and handing off to Atiga who scored under the posts.

Rokocoko also had a hand in the 52nd-minute try by lock and captain Troy Flavell which retrieved the lead for the Blues in the second half, the fourth lead change in what had been a closely fought match.

Lee opens account

The Blues had taken the lead after four minutes with a try by halfback Danny Lee in his 50th Super match but flyhalf Stephen Donald kicked penalties in the seventh and 14th minutes to put the Chiefs ahead 6-5.

The Blues' newest signing, All Blacks flyhalf Nick Evans, kicked his first goal from three attempts in the 24th minute to put the Blues ahead 8-6.

The Chiefs hit back with a try to All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina a minute from halftime to take a three-point lead into the break.

The Blues gained the ascendancy in the second half, adapting better than the Chiefs to the new rules and the demands of a fast-paced game.

Their scrum was dominant and their forwards constantly made ground with raids around the fringes of rucks and mauls.

When possession tipped in the Blues favour in the second half, its talented backline was able to take full advantage, eventually grabbing a bonus-point try.

"We've got talent to burn and we showed that tonight which was great,'' Flavell said.

The Chiefs only points of the second half came from a penalty to Donald, his third goal from six attempts.

Source:
Agencies
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