Super Rugby: Frank Halai hat-trick sees Blues beat Rebels at Eden Park
Last Updated: 11/05/13 3:58pm
Frank Halai scored a thrilling first-half hat-trick as the Blues edged the Rebels 36-32 at Eden Park.
The 25-year-old winger touched down to put his side in control, before the out-of-form Rebels launched a second-half fightback.
Ultimately, though, Rene Ranger would put them to bed with a 72nd-minute score, before the visitors at least claimed a bonus point thanks to Jason Woodward's injury-time try.
On balance the Blues deserved their win, starting well and getting a healthy lead which they would just about defend.
Halai went in after five minutes, starting and finishing a move that involved Ranger, Piri Weepu and Chris Noakes, with the latter unable to convert.
Mitch Inman responded for Melbourne but the home side hit straight back, with Francis Saili kicking ahead and chasing it down to score.
That was backed up by a third try, with Halai finishing well in the corner, Noakes kicking a first goal to make it 17-5.
Weepu, Noakes and Saili then combined for the latter to get his second and when fly-half James O'Connor went off injured, the away side were struggling at 24-5.
Quickly, though, they scored a try, with Scott Higgingbotham going in, but Halai made sure the Blues ended the half on top with a show-and-go effort in the corner for his hat-trick.
The game was nearly up at 29-10 at the break, but Lachlan Mitchell and then Inman shook the Blues with two quick tries and, when Woodward slotted a penalty, it was 29-25.
Ranger intervened, though, meaning the home side got over the line, before Woodward completed the scoring.