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Blues player ratings vs Brumbies | Super Rugby Pacific semi-finals

By Ned Lester
AJ Lam scores for the Blues. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

The Blues were looking like a championship team on Friday night in Auckland, with some early breakdown discipline issues making way for a convincing win.

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The Brumbies did their best to hang around on the scoreboard, but a late yellow card to Nick Frost cemented their fate, with another semi-final exit spelling a familiar end to the season for the ACT team.

Here’s how the Blues rated in the contest:

1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 8

The Blues scrum was firing yet again in the semi-final, and the veteran All Black was making life very difficult for perhaps Australia’s strongest scrummager in Allan Alaalatoa.

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2. Ricky Riccitelli – 9

The Blues lineout was under pressure from the outset but Riccitelli was up to the task, profiting with the second try of the game off the back of a strong driving maul.

The hooker plays with huge amounts of energy and intent, executing on both sides of the ball. Riccitelli grabbing Hoskins Sotutu and dragging him back onside when the No. 8 was oblivious to the referee’s warnings was a superb team play.

3. Marcel Renata – 8.5

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Renata, as this writer mentioned in last week’s player ratings, is an unsung hero of the Blues’ season and produced another outstanding performance this week.

In addition to the powerful scrum work, the 30-year-old chewed through 15 tackles on the night.

4. Sam Darry – 7.5

Darry was busy in the carry and the tackle in the semi-final, providing respectable work-rate on both sides of the ball. The lock wasn’t employed as a jumper in the lineout often but his frame and IQ helped the Blues handle the Brumbies’ threats.

Scored the third try of the game for the Blues on a strong short-range carry and made his presence felt around the breakdown.

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5. Josh Beehre – 8

A couple of rookie errors from the young lock but there’s no denying Beehre’s impact on the defensive end and around the ruck.

The 22-year-old ended the semi-final with a game-high of 21 tackles with just one miss and claimed the most lineouts for the home side. The youngster couldn’t stop Rob Valetini when the Wallaby had a dig from close range.

6. Akira Ioane – 8

Ioane provided invaluable carries around the park, helping get his team on the front foot early and contributing to the opening try. A leading tackler in the game despite leaving the field in the opening hour. The team will be looking to send Ioane to Japan a Super Rugby Pacific champion next weekend, it has to be said he deserves it.

7. Dalton Papali’i (c) – 8

Papali’i has been the leading figure defensively on this historically good Blues defence in 2024, but started this game with a couple of penalties around the ruck, allowing the Brumbies to get on the board.

After that, Papali’i was his usual immense self, making a bucket load of tackles and enabling his side’s powerful pick-and-go game by throwing himself into the dirty work. The captain also produced a try-saving tackle in the 33rd minute by pushing speedster Corey Toole into touch as the Wallaby-in-waiting dived for the corner.

8. Hoskins Sotutu – 8.5

The big No. 8 had himself maybe a mixed night by his standards, falling off the most tackles for a Blues player. But, the negatives were of course far outweighed by the positives and Sotutu was again a major component of another strong Blues win.

He led the game in offloads, contributed a try assist and scored one himself, making it 12 on the season to tie the Blues record. Quick thinking around the base of the scrum was him contribute to a number of other scoring efforts too.

9. Finlay Christie – 8

Christie was more than up to the challenge of keeping up with the steamtrain that is the Blues forward pack, always on hand to keep the pace up and ensure the team make the most of their breakdown dominance.

Defensively, Christie was at his usual best, only contributing four tackles but patrolling behind the defensive line, communicating and showing up when needed.

10. Harry Plummer – 8

Plummer started the contest looking incredibly comfortable in the 10 jersey, and while he had some shaky moments, specifically off the boot in open play, his game management was yet again excellent.

The 25-year-old also missed some kicks off the tee, but his few carries and few tackles were all well executed.

11. Caleb Clarke – 9

Clarke had another exceptional outing on Friday night, getting involved in the midfield defence regularly and doing so like a forward.

10 carries on the night saw the most of any Blues player and Clarke added to his scoring tally with another try. Looked shaken up when taken out in the air in the 70th minute but played on stoically.

12. AJ Lam – 9

Lam was exceptional in the quarter-final, providing world-class defence and thriving in the starting 12 jersey. In the semi-final, it was more of the same.

Thriving in the No. 12 jersey late in the season, Lam has stamped his claim on the jersey moving forward and looks to be building a powerful midfield combination with Rieko Ioane.

Nine carries for 48 metres and 13 tackles show his world-class work rate. The 25-year-old also scored the opening try of the game.

13. Rieko Ioane – 8

Not a missed tackle to the All Black’s name shows his value to the team, as Ioane ended the game as his team’s captain when Dalton Papali’i was taken from the field.

14. Mark Tele’a – 8

Tele’a doesn’t get as many opportunities as fans may like but when the slippery, evasive running does come to the fore, it’s instantly dangerous for the opposition.

15. Stephen Perofeta – 8

Perofeta found a few moments to inject himself into the contest, while not called upon too much at fullback. His few carries resulted in a game-high 87 run meters and a clever wide ball in the 20th minute saw him convert a linebreak into a try assist.

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Reserves:

16. Kurt Eklund – 6

17. Joshua Fusitu’a – 8

18. Angus Ta’avao – 8.5

19. James Thompson – 7

20. Adrian Choat – 8.5

21. Taufa Funaki – 8.5

Bonus points for a backwards chip kick that enraged his coach.

22. Corey Evans – N/A

23. Cole Forbes – N/A

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Comments

5 Comments
S
Simon 33 days ago

Pfft..! same as last week why don’t you just give them all 10’s. Just stroking their egos a little more they aren’t that good.

D
David 33 days ago

The Blues are playing NH rugby under Vern Cotter. Ignoring the talent in the backline for endless pick and goes and rolling mauls. It’s winning rugby on the scoreboard but it fails to excite or bring in the NZ spectators.

That said it’s a shame players like Heem and Lam have been ignored by the AB selectors with preference given to endless inadequate Crusaders backs.

U
Utiku Old Boy 33 days ago

Good game. Vern and his coaching team had them well prepared. Akira is showing more energy this season - a lack of which has probably kept him from Jason Ryan’s teams. Too bad we are just seeing this version as he is departing for Japan. Good to see the hard edge of this pack after many years of talent but inconsistency. Have to agree that Funaki’s over-the-head kick was funny for the expletive that Vern blasted!!!

J
Jacinda 33 days ago

Such a boring game, Brumbies didn’t turn up

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