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Blues player ratings vs Force | Super Rugby Pacific

By Ben Smith
The Blues leave the field after the warm up session before the round five Super Rugby Pacific match between Blues and Western Force at Eden Park, on March 26, 2023, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

The Blues rebounded from the loss to the Crusaders with a 30-17 win over the Western Force at Eden Park.

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Resting a host of All Blacks, the Blues still controlled proceedings well with the Force finding it tough to crack the defence.

Stephen Perofeta in a rare start in the 10 jersey was exceptional for the home side while the Blues’ back three were dangerous at the back.

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Here’s how the Blues rated:

1. Josh Fusitua – 6

Some nice hands at times as the lead ball carrier and strong carries. Off at 49 mins.

2. Kurt Eklund – 4 

Lineout wobbles nearly all afternoon but offered relentless effort in defence. Made a truckload of tackles but the Blues’ lineout was awful.

3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 6

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Back into the line-up after returning from concussion suffered against the Brumbies. Made his presence felt with strong rush defence. Bagged a try running off the shoulder. Conceded a late first half penalty. Off at 49 mins.

4. James Tucker – 6

Handled the restarts well. Got through his tackles and a scuffle with Wallaby hooker Folau Fainga’a. Off at 52 mins.

5. Cameron Suafoa – 7

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Took a big hand off on an early Force break. A nice offload to set up a try for Tu’ungafasi. Had seven carries, the most of any Blues forward and 15 tackles, again the most of any Blues forward.

6. Anton Segner – 7

A lot of tackles early on as the Blues were stuck on defence. Nicked a key lineout late in the first half and made 7 tackles in the first half. Made good metres out on the fringes in attack and got through 14 tackles in total.

7. Adrian Choat – 6

Won his first turnover in the 26th after industrious work around the park, making a team high 11 tackles in the first half. Off at half-time for Tom Robinson.

8. Hoskins Sotutu – 5

Had a quiet game after a massive effort against the Crusaders. Just two tackles and four carries in the first half. Finished with just six carries which was a lot less than usual for the No 8.

9. Sam Nock – 7

Brought his box kicking back into the Blues game and played a solid game. Had zip and accuracy on the pass and looked dangerous when he sniped. Off at 52 min.

10. Stephen Perofeta – 9

Hit an early long range penalty to opening the scoring. Got pinged for taking a man in the air. The cross field kicking game was a clear plan to target the Force. His kicking game controlled the game well in the first half.

Picked the right moments to take on the line, finding a beautiful offload for Anton Segner for a break and then one for himself right on half-time.

Blues’ best of the afternoon in a near-flawless performance on attack. A few misses off the tee and slipped off a couple of tackles.

11. Mark Telea – 7

Burst into the game in the 20th minute with a big break on a kick return to return to the top of the competition’s rankings in line breaks. Threatened around the ruck with some sniping. Scored one in the second after smart handling from Heem. Got some more space as the game opened up and finished with 116 running metres.

12. Harry Plummer – 5

Defended strongly and probed a bit. Had a key half-break in the lead-up to the bonus point try. Had a reliable performance overall.

13. Bryce Heem – 5

Ran strong support lines and good defence in the midfield. Smart hands for an assist for Telea. Off at 49 mins.

14. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens – 6

Had an early take chasing a high ball to get into proceedings. Looked dangerous on the counter-attack combining with Sullivan. Pulled in a spectacular effort on a cross-field kick from Perofeta to score his first ever try for the Blues.

Had a bad spill off a kickoff which put pressure on his side after a score which led to the Force’s first try.

15. Zarn Sullivan – 6

Long kicking game helped the Blues manage territory. Had some quality touches at first receiver. Safe under the high ball on his first few takes and looked threatening in the backfield with some space. Had a few execution errors pushing the pass or not taking a 50-50 one himself.

Substitutes

16. Ricky Riccitelli 5– On at 49 mins. Lineout troubles continued with Riccitelli’s first throw. Powered over for a try in the 60th minute.
17. Jordan Lay – 5 – On at 49 mins. Scrum became dominant with the reserve front row bringing a lift. Went hard at the breakdown.
18. Marcel Renata 5 – On at 49 mins. Brought strong carrying to the Blues attack.
19. Tom Robinson – 5 – On at half-time. Became a good lineout option for the Blues when he came on.
20. Sam Darry – 4 On at 52 mins.
21. Taine Plumtree – 6 – on at 71st min. Won an early penalty on the ball at the ruck after coming on and snatched another shortly after.
22. Taufa Funaki – 5 – On at 52 mins. Played with good tempo and brought impact.
23. Corey Evans – 5 -On at 49 mins. Some nice touches on the end of the Blues backline. Defended very well.

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