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Blues player ratings vs Brumbies | Super Rugby Pacific

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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The Blues have dug deep and produced a top-drawer win over a stubborn Brumbies outfit to clinch their place in the Super Rugby Pacific final, which they will host against the Crusaders in Auckland next week.

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Here’s how the Blues rated in their 20-19 victory at Eden Park on Saturday:

1. Alex Hodgman – 7

Made a nuisance of himself at the breakdown, winning the Blues possession early in the first half. Replicated that feat not long afterwards to get his side out of jail well inside their own territory. Would be surprised to see him excluded from the All Blacks squad on Monday. Off in the 51st minute.

2. Kurt EklundĀ  – 6

Worked in tandem with Josh Goodhue to make their defensive presence felt with a thumping two-man tackle on an opposition player early in the piece. Mostly threw well at the lineout. Conceded a silly yellow card for a tip tackle on Andy Muirhead. Probably fortunate it wasn’t a red.

3. Nepo Laulala – 7

Strong effort at the scrum against veteran counterpart James Slipper to win his side a penalty in the 18th minute. Did the same thing again in the 38th minute. Backbone stuff. Lucky not to have been punished for his involvement in the Muirhead tackle that got Eklund sin binned. Off in the 58th minute.

4. Josh Goodhue – 6

Teamed up with Eklund to smash one of his opponents early on. Won the Blues some lineout pill on occasion and got around the field without too much fuss. Off in the 58th minute.

5. Tom Robinson – 8

Showed soft hands to pop the ball into the clutches of Rieko Ioane in the lead-up to Hoskins Sotutu’s try. At his aerobic best at the lineout and was busy with ball in hand. Ran the second-most metres of any Blues forward, didn’t miss a tackle and was his side’s chief lineout option. Capped it all off my pinching an absolutely vital lineout steal right on his own tryline inside the final 10 minutes. Stellar effort.

6. Akira Ioane – 6

Carried often but without much notoriety in the first half, with his first notable moment on attack coming 10 minutes into the second half, when he hustled and bustled his way through some lacklustre defence.

7. Adrian Choat – 4

Poor defensive read from the side of the scrum gave Irae Simone the space needed to score from early in the match. Topped his side’s tackle count with nine to his name, but had his uneventful night brought to an end with a yellow card for a head clash with Tom Wright.

8. Hoskins Sotutu – 8

Capped off a sweeping Blues counter-attack emphatically by busting through a few Brumbies defenders from close range to score his side’s first try. Fronted up on defence as well, thwarting one promising Brumbies attack with a good strip of the ball near the half hour mark. Admirably stepped in to assume responsibility as lineout thrower with Eklund in the sin bin, and acquitted himself well on that front. A bit of ill-discipline near the end of the match marred what was otherwise a superb showing.

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9. Finlay Christie – 6

Was his nippy self for the most part of the first half, but perhaps lacked a little bit of accuracy or poise on attack. Still managed to pop up here, there and everywhere for as long as he was on the park. Thumping tackle to stop Jahrome Brown in his tracks late in the contest.

10. Beauden Barrett (c) – 9

Got good value out of putting boot to ball to test the Brumbies’ backfield in slippery conditions, forcing a knock-on out of Tom Hooper, a misread from Noah Lolesio and a collision between Nic White and Tom Banks. He was, however, uncharacteristically burnt for pace by Simone en route to his first-up try, but did his best to make up for it from the ensuing re-start by holding a Brumbies player up to earn his side a scrum. Looked threatening whenever he opted to take on defenders and was constantly the focal point of his side’s attack, as illustrated by his ability to beat four defenders and fling a back-handed offload away to help put Mark Telea over for a try in the corner. Unlucky to have his 45m drop goal attempt denied by the crossbar on the stroke of half-time. Clutch last-ditch tackle to prevent the rampant Banks from scoring in the 54th minute, but couldn’t quite score one himself when he was held up over the line in the 62nd minute. Regardless, it was an immense showing by the star playmaker.

11. Mark Telea – 6.5

Was mostly quiet up until he dotted down near half-time, when he did well to stay on his feet and wriggle his way over the chalk while being tangled up in a tackle. Had some good moments, even if they were far and few between, but was one of many Blues players who were guilty of letting ill-discipline creep into his game near full-time.

12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – 6

A quiet night for the cross-code superstar. Largely nullified by the Brumbies defence and was utilised in a strictly ball-carrying role – which he executed well, aside from a glaring handling error and costly penalty concession – but didn’t really get to see his glittering footwork in action. Parked himself out on the wing a lot of the time. Perhaps a sign of things to come moving forward?

13. Rieko Ioane – 7

Showed good support play and patience with ball in hand leading up to Sotutu’s try. Brilliant line break near the end of the first half to set in motion the events that led to Telea’s try. Got stood up twice in the same play by Muirhead and Banks, only to be spared his blushes by Barrett’s try-saving defence.

14. AJ Lam – 8

Helped Barrett win his side a scrum feed inside the first few minutes with some staunch defensive presence. Lovely decision-making and patience in the build-up to Telea’s try as he picked his moment perfectly to find Christie among a cluster of Brumbies defenders. Followed that up with a powerful charge upfield to provide the Blues with the momentum that should have paved the way for a try to Barrett. Won a vital breakdown turnover in the 67th minute to stifle the opposition’s attack well inside his own half. Looked well at home in the absence of regular Blues power wing Caleb Clarke.

15. Stephen Perofeta – 8

Used as a turnstile by Simone in the lead-up to the match’s opening try, but made up for it with an outstanding try-saving tackle to hold Banks up over the line. Instigated a try-scoring counter-attack with some incisive running in back play before popping a deft offload into the hands of Tom Robinson. Bagged a try assist for Telea and kicked all his goals without fail. Beautiful short ball put Barrett into acres of space, only to be denied a try over the line. Poor start aside, it was a quality showing by the All Blacks prospect.

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Reserves

16. Soane Vikena – N/A

17. Karl Tu’inukuafe – 6

On in the 51st minute. Didn’t touch the ball at all, instead putting himself to work on the defensive and set piece front.

18. Ofa Tuungafasi – 7

On in the 58th minute. Struggled to live up to the scrummaging standards set by Laulala, giving away a scrum-related penalty in the 66th minute. However, he came up with probably the most important play of the evening, charging down a Noah Lolesio drop goal in the dying moments of the game.

19. Luke Romano – 6

On in the 58th minute. Showed some good ball-playing skills upon his introduction into the match.

20. James Tucker – N/A

21. Sam Nock – N/A

22. Tamati Tua – N/A

23. Zarn Sullivan – N/A

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