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Blues grab bonus point, beat Queensland Reds 44-14 in Super Rugby

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand - All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu played a key role in three tries as the Auckland-based Blues beat the Queensland Reds 44-14 to reassert their claim to a playoffs place in Super Rugby on Friday.

The Blues needed only 50 minutes to capture a four-try bonus point, posting their second straight win over an Australian opponent to hoist themselves to fifth place on the ladder at the start of the 12th round.

Nonu laid on the opening try for midfield partner Jackson Willison, then created tries for Lolagi Visinia and Bryn Hall in a five-minute spell on either side of halftime when the Reds were down to 14 men.

Blues flyhalf Simon Hickey converted four tries and landed three penalties - seven goals from seven attempts - to surpass 100 points for the season.

After conceding four tries to trail 34-0 by the 50th minute, the Reds rallied with tries to Ben Daley and captain James Horwill to take some of the weight from a lopsided scoreline. But the Blues finished strongly with a try to replacement Ihaia West to secure their fifth win at home this season.

They started the match in last place in the New Zealand conference - though only five points behind regional leaders the Hurricanes - just as Queensland were in last place in Australia.

Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper, who was celebrating his 100th match in a Queensland jersey, missed two penalties to cost his team the chance to get into the match early on and finished with two goals from four attempts. The Reds were also unlucky to have tries to back-rowers Liam Gill and Jack Schatz disallowed in either half.

The match began on a low note in a first quarter heavily punctuated by penalties — and the Blues needed 32 minutes to open the scoring through Willison, who was immediately forced from the field with a hamstring strain.

Nonu opened up the Queensland defence with a wide pass to winger Visinia, who turned the ball back to Willison for the try.

Wallabies prop James Slipper was sent to the sin-bin in the 35th and in his absence Nonu fashioned tries for Visinia and Hall. His chip kick into unoccupied territory behind the posts made Visinia's try in the 38th. Nonu then made the break that led to a try by scrumhalf Hall in the 43rd, lifting the Blues to 27-0.

Nonu also handled in the next try-scoring movement but it was Frank Halai's break and pass that made the try by lock Tom Donnelly which secured the Blues' four-try bonus point.

All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock was sent to the sin-bin for punching the 52nd and, in his absence, Queensland scored its first try through Ben Daley. The Reds closed the gap a little with Horwill's try in the 65th but the Blues finished strongly.

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Blues 44 (Jackson Willison, Lolagi Visinia, Bryn Hall, Tom Donnelly, Ihaia West tries; Simon Hickey 4 conversions, 3 penalties; West conversion), Queensland Reds 14 (Ben Daley, James Horwill tries; Quade Cooper 2 conversions). HT: 20-0.

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