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Blues withstand storming Waratahs finish to win

Super Rugby

Brothers Rieko and Akira Ioane starred as the Auckland Blues withstood a storming second half comeback to edge out the NSW Waratahs 40-33 in Super Rugby in Sydney on Saturday.

Winger Rieko scored a double and No.8 Akira another try as the Blues won back-to-back matches for the first time since 2013 to stave off the Waratahs.

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It was also four consecutive wins for the Blues in Australia ending a 14-year drought.

Auckland led 26-0 at half-time, but the Waratahs surged home with a five-try second half, with Wallaby back Israel Folau nabbing a double, to go down with all guns blazing.

The Waratahs, who outscored the Blues five tries to four and 33-14 in the second half, lost at home for the fourth straight time for the first time since 1999.

The difference was the goalkicking of Auckland's English fly-half Piers Francis, who contributed 20 points from four conversions and four penalty goals.

Despite lying at the bottom of the powerful New Zealand conference, the Blues extended the Kiwi dominance over Australian opposition to 17-0 in trans-Tasman encounters this season.

"The second half wasn't as sharp as we would have liked and they came out with heaps of energy in the second half and we knew it was coming," Blues skipper James Parsons said.

"We kept it simple in the first half, kept it in the forwards, we did well in the scrums and lineouts to give us a platform to play off and we took the points when we had the opportunities.

"We were really pleased with that. We set ourselves up and we were lucky we did to be honest because we needed those points with the way we played in the second half."

Folau broke the longest try-scoring drought of his five-year Super Rugby career with his second-half double.

The Waratahs, Super Rugby winners three years ago, are four points adrift of the ACT Brumbies in the underwhelming Australian conference.

"Our discipline was poor in the first half and yet again we showed great fight, but not enough, two different 40-minutes there, it's frustrating," Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper said.

The Waratahs finished with a flurry, claiming a losing bonus point after late tries to Bernard Foley (69th minute), Folau and prop Paddy Ryan at the death.

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