AUCKLAND ù The Sharks scored two tries in each half to beat the Blues 29-23 in the Super Rugby game in Auckland on Friday night, claiming a bonus point and pitching the Blues' season deeper into crisis.
Two tries from intercepts in the first half helped the Durban-based Sharks to a 15-0 lead over an Auckland team plagued by simple handling errors. The Sharks then scored two tries in four minutes in the second half, after the Blues had rallied to lead 20-15, to regain their advantage and to close out their fourth win in eight games.
Auckland slumped to its sixth loss from seven games to remain at the bottom of the table at the end of a week of conflict and controversy. In the worst week of the Blues' worst season, captain Keven Mealamu broke rugby's code of silence and publicly criticised All Blacks teammate Piri Weepu for his lack of fitness, tacitly laying the blame for Auckland's poor form with Weepu. And in a tearful news conference, under-fire coach Pat Lam claimed to have been the target of racial abuse on talkback shows and social media from fans disgruntled with his team's performance.
The Blues made a poor start Friday, conceding an intercept try after only three minutes, then another after 17 minutes to trail 15-0 before the end of the first 20 minutes. "Two intercept tries, that's 14 gift points," Mealamu said.