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Blues player ratings vs Brumbies | Super Rugby Pacific

By Ben Smith
Taufa Funaki of the Blues makes a break during the round two Super Rugby Pacific match between Blues and ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, on March 05, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

The Blues were plagued by ill-discipline early conceding the first five of the match as the Brumbies piled on the pressure and built a 10-0 lead.

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With two yellow cards inside the first seven minutes the Blues couldn’t have started any worse.

The Brumbies forwards won the battle up front with two maul tries in the first half and plenty of scrum penalties all afternoon.

A high-scoring game stalled as neither side registered a point in the second half as the Brumbies retained their 25-20 half-time lead.

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How the Blues rated against the Brumbies.

1. Josh Fusitua – 5

In just his second cap for the Blues, the 21-year-old had a good performance across the park but was part of an inefficient Blues pack at set-piece. Was pinged for not rolling away early but carried hard and defended with intent. Drop a key ball in the first half that spoiled some good phases. Came off in 32nd minute for HIA, back on for second half and off at 51. Came back late for final eight minutes.

2. Ricky Riccitelli – 5

The veteran opened the scoring for the Blues crashing over on a pick and go. Misfire at the lineout gave Brumbies a turnover for dummy throw. Carried well with the ball. Off at 54 but had to come back on. Won a key penalty at the breakdown with two minutes remaining to give the Blues a final push.

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3. James Lay – 5

A rare start for Lay, just his third cap for the Blues. Was yellow carded moments after Clarke’s compounding problems for the Blues, was the culprit for collapsing the maul leading to a penalty try. Very physical defence in close, pounded runners in that channel. Had a bad turnover placing the ball at the ruck after a strong carry with the Blues hot on attack halfway through the second half.

4. Patrick Tuipulotu – 5.5

Not his best performance with a lack of polish around execution and urgency at times in the first half. Provided strong defence and ran the Blues lineout effectively and the lineout defence well. Came up with a big lineout steal early in the 2nd half. Lifted as the game went on and upped the intensity late with some big tackles.

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5. Cameron Suafoa – 7

Carry option. Came up with a lineout steal early and another one late. Really put the Brumbies under pressure at the lineout. Good clean up work. Competed hard around the contact areas. Won a tackle turnover with a two-man sandwhich with Lay. Blues best forward over the 80 minutes.

6. Tom Robinson – 6

Exploded into the game with a brilliant individual try following a ruck turnover after 30 minutes. Broke the line from over 40 metres out and took on Tom Wright on the outside and burned the Brumbies fullback. Dropped one cold on a planned set move the next time round. Off at 57 for Adrian Choat.

7. Dalton Papali’i – 7

A reliable performance from Papali’i. Won a ruck penalty in 23rd min after a long driving Barrett kick which led to three points. Strong defence with nine tackles. A big try saving effort with a quarter of the game to go.

8. Hoskins Sotutu – 7

Looked good with ball-in-hand but didn’t get many chances early. Some issues on kick off receipts with ball sailing over the jump. Tackled well with strong physicality. Got through a decent number of carries and tackles, the most of any Blues player. Not a flashy performance but solid.

9. Finlay Christie – 6

Christie shined in the effort areas. He had a key ruck turnover which led to Robinson’s try. Went after any loose possession with scrappy competitive instinct, winning two turnovers in the first half. Played a key part in a nice switch play from a scrum which gave the Blues a big scoring opportunity. Off at 61.

10. Beauden Barrett – 6.5

Kicking was mixed as he overcooked one in the first half and went deep and uncontested a lot. Had a kick blocked in the second half from a grubber on attack that led to a big shift in momentum but he was there to save a try at the other end. Defence was the story of Barrett’s day.

Saved a few tries in the backfield, one on kick coverage with the Blues down to 13 men and one with a last-ditch intercept after his blocked grubber. He cleaned up another dangerous situation on a charged box kick exit.

11. Caleb Clarke – 5

A couple of really good cover tackles throughout the game and powered through a lot of carries to get involved. Yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on after too many infringements from the side. Strong carries as always.

12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – 7.5

One of the Blues best, but final touch still missing. He had a big spot tackle early but was offside giving the Brumbies first three points. Came up with a big line break early with some smart footwork but didn’t convert, throwing an intercept. Topped the carry count after the first forty minutes showing off some brilliant footwork. Great defence for most of the day. A standout day for RTS.

13. Rieko Ioane – 4

Not many opportunites to attack in the first half, but offered high effort in defence and in kick chase. First chance came on a line break following a scrum switch play in the 2nd half, but couldn’t link up to finish with Tuivasa-Sheck on a big chance. Got held up by Ikitau shortly afterward to concede a turnover. Had a nice break in the second half. Just wasn’t his day. Still gave plenty of work in the off-the-ball areas.

14. Mark Telea – 6

After a big performance in Dunedin, Telea had to work to get involved, escorting kick chasers and trying to get up in the air. Solid defensive pressure. Good execution in under the high ball. Came back to Earth in terms of attacking production but it was still a solid day out for Telea doing what he could.

15. Stephen Perofeta – 6

Good take under the high ball and a couple of instinctual chances of attack in the first half. Had a big line break on a set-piece play in the second half.

Reserves

16. Kurt Eklund4.5 – On at 54. Targetted the breakdown to make an impact going after a few pilfers and had a good counter ruck. Got caught in a head clash with Tu’ungafasi while tackling Ollie Sapsford which was penalised.
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi 4 – Conceded scrum penalty with first act of the game. Another on the second for dropping a knee as an HIA replacement. Had a much better imact in the 2nd half. Caught a head knock with Eklund with 8 mins to go.
18. Nepo Laulala – 4 – On at 57.
19. James Tucker – 3 – Industrious, but didn’t have the same level of impact as the starters. A key lineout take aimed at Tucker was disrupted and turned over right at the death that the Blues desperately needed. 
20. Adrian Choat 5- On at 57. Brought plenty of energy ripping into everything. 
21. Taufa Funaki – 5 – On at 61. Had some nice touches in attack, showed some spark with some ball-playing. 
22. Bryce Heem – N/A
23. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens – NA

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