TOKYO, Japan, April 14 (Reuters) - Winger Jordan Hyland scored a brace of tries as the Auckland Blues ensured that the Sunwolves remain winless in this season’s Super Rugby competition with a 24-10 victory at Tokyo’s Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The Japanese side, who defeated the Blues last season in their only previous encounter, led 10-5 at halftime thanks to Timothy Lafaele’s converted try and a Yu Tamura penalty before Hyland halved the deficit with a breakaway effort for the Blues.
However, weak tackling from the hosts after the break allowed the Blues to surge 19-10 ahead on tries from Akira Ioane and replacement Dalton Papalii.
Hyland added his second in the dying minutes for the Auckland-based outfit, who will be pleased to leave Tokyo with their second victory of a slow-starting campaign. The Sunwolves have lost all seven of their matches in 2018.
The contest between the sides with the worst records in the southern hemisphere tournament was never likely to be a thriller and it turned out to be almost as gloomy as the weather in the Japanese capital.
The scrappy affair was blighted by basic handling errors and turnovers at the breakdown, with the Sunwolves benefiting early on as the Blues struggled to replicate the form that had seen them run the Chiefs close last week.
Despite restricting the damage to just three points during Patrick Tuipolutu’s early 10-minute spell in the sin bin, the Blues conceded the first try in the 21st minute when Lafaele touched down in the corner after a Hayden Parker break.
The Sunwolves, however, struggled to keep pace with the fitter and strong Blues thereafter, as the visitors crossed for three unanswered tries in a 30-minute spell either side of halftime to move into a nine-point lead.
The bonus point win failed to lift the Blues off the bottom of the New Zealand conference but they did close the gap on the Highlanders, who play later on Saturday, as coach Tana Umaga looks to find greater consistency to stay in touch. (Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by John O’Brien)