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Blues player ratings vs Highlanders | Super Rugby Pacific

By Jordan King
Sam Nock, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Hoskins Sotutu and Mark Telea. (Photo by Brett Phibbs/Photosport)

The Highlanders were put out of their misery this evening after being thumped by the Blues 35-6 at Eden Park.

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A shaky start saw the hosts trail by six points after the opening quarter, but a reckless tackle from Andrew Makalio gave them a numerical advantage for 20 minutes and the difference proved decisive.

They finished the match with five tries and denied the visitors any chance they had at ending their season on a high note. The Blues’ quest for a ‘real’ Super Rugby title now only requires a further two wins.

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Here’s how the Blues rated:

1. Alex Hodgman – 5/10
Found himself backpedalling at the set-piece for the first time in a few weeks. The pressure subsided when Andrew Makalio was given his marching orders, but he made sure to make up for the poor platform with strong carries and hits.

2. Kurt Eklund – 5
The Highlanders’ security at their own rucks negated his ability over the ball, although this didn’t stop the rake from sticking his head in dark places. Nailed his throws and chopped anything that ran at him.

3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 4
Outmuscled by fellow All Black Ethan de Groot at the set-piece and was pinged twice for inaccurate action at the breakdown. Made way for Nepo Laulala in the 54th minute.

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4. James Tucker – 3
Penalised three times in 40 minutes of play, the last of which cost his team a chance at bagging points. A forgetful evening for one of the Blues’ most consistent in 2022. Pulled for Luke Romano at the interval

5. Tom Robinson – 7
The hardest man to miss with his notorious red locks. Pulled down the majority of their lineouts and was relentless in all other facets from beginning to end.

6. Akira Ioane – 7
A physical presence on both sides of the ball. Was denied a try by the TMO before streaking away for his side’s first points. Looks to have one hand on a starting spot in the All Blacks with his form and Ethan Blackadder requiring medical attention.

 

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7. Adrian Choat – 6.5
Occupied the seven jersey with Dalton Papalii requiring surgery for appendicitis. He may not be as inspirational as their skipper but he did well to replicate his skipper’s typical output on defence. Had only one miss from 14 tackle attempts.

8. Hoskins Sotutu – 8
The pick of the Blues’ big men. Was constantly powering his way over the gain line and laid on a lovely pass to RTS in the lead up to Barrett’s second dot. Like Choat, he only had one missed tackle but finished with three fewer successes.

9. Finlay Christie – 6
Only found his rhythm late in the game with all the handling errors in the opening spell. Service was snappy but Fakatava was still the pick of the two. Will need to step things up to have any assurance of retaining his place in the national set up.

10. Beauden Barrett – 7.5
Was responsible for two decisive blows either side of halftime. Dashed past Ethan de Groot en route to his first score and was in the right place at the right time to cross the chalk a second time. His contestable kicking also caused issues for the Highlanders.

11. Mark Telea – 5
Not afforded as many touches as we have come to expect from slippery outside back. Still managed to elude the grasp of two Highlanders and was faultless in his efforts without the pill.

12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – 6
You could stick this guy in a phonebox and he’d still be just as difficult to tackle. Danced his way around seven defenders and couldn’t believe his luck after cutting back infield in the 70th minute and having a clear run to the line from 25 out. Still has some work to do with his defensive reads, though.

13. Rieko Ioane – 7
Continues to go from strength to strength. After making his name as a regular on the scoresheet he has evolved his game to be just as notable with setting up his teammates, another two try assists tonight, and locking up his opposite.

14. Bryce Heem – N/A
Departed with an injury just before the half-hour mark.

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15. Stephen Perofeta – 7.5
Another composed performance from the All Blacks hopeful. Has a knack for injecting himself at the right moments and shaking off the first defender. Clocked up the most run metres of anyone on the park and was perfect off the tee.

Reserves:

16. Soane Vikena – N/A

17. Karl Tu’inukuafe – 6/10

18. Nepo Laulala – 6/10
Stamped his dominance by winning two penalties with two huge shoves at scrum time.

19. Luke Romano – 6/10
Swapped places with Tucker at the break and added some much-needed punch.

20. Josh Goodhue – N/A

21. Sam Nock – N/A
Chalked up 50 games for the Blues when Christie left the field in the 65th minute.

22. AJ Lam – 5
Thrown into the action earlier than expected as Heem departed with a knock. A quiet night with the ball in hand but picked up his sixth meat pie of the season following a drop from Marty Banks.

23. Zarn Sullivan – N/A
Subbed in for Rieko Ioane with 10 to go. Secured one peach of a 50-22 with a top-spinning punt.

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