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Blues player ratings vs Highlanders | Super Rugby Pacific

By Jordan King
Mark Telea. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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The Blues managed to stave off a late fightback for the second successive week after toppling the Highlanders 32-20 at North Harbour Stadium this evening.

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The hosts were their own worst enemies in the opening 40 minutes as they tallied just under double digits in the turnover and penalty columns as well as going backwards at scrum time.

Two quick strikes to start the second half flipped the momentum back in their favour though before some notable names stood up to keep the scoreboard ticking over and close out the win.

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Here’s how the Blues rated:

1. Alex Hodgman 5
Was the stronger of the two props against what is a promising front row in Ethan de Groot and Jermaine Ainsley. Made all 11 of his tackles before departing in the 60th minute.

2. Kurt Eklund – 6
Another rugged performance from the rough operator. Nailed his throws and could easily have been mistaken for a loosie with his tackle count (17) and a couple of key turnovers.

3. Marcel Renata – 4
Struggled mightily against De Groot in the first half, conceding a number of scrum penalties, but tightened the screws after halftime before departing in the 50th minute.

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4. Luke Romano – 5
The big bruiser was once again in the thick of things and unfortunately was the recipient of a yellow for his endeavours. Held nothing back in the contact and made sure to empty the tank after being given a breather.

5. Sam Darry – 6
Isn’t afraid to do the donkey work in a pack that was loaded with explosive athletes. Probably hit the most rucks of any player tonight and made no mistakes as the target in the lineout. It’s easy to forget the guy is 21 with the way he goes about his business.

6. Taine Plumtree – 8
Relished his first start at the Super level and showcased some silky touches for a man of his size. His height gave his team four jumpers at the set-piece, and he put it to even better use in the lead up to his first try. It wasn’t all finesse from the youngster though, as he went sniffing for a position to bang bodies.

 

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7. Dalton Papalii – 6
Popped up everywhere as per usual and did his shoulders no favour with another double-digit number (14) of tackles. Won’t be happy with letting Shannon Frizell get through him, but he wasn’t the only one who had trouble containing the Highlander this evening.

8. Hoskins Sotutu – 7
No highlight reel plays to mention from the No 8 as he found himself more in the tight. Seems to be making a more concerted effort to have just as big an impact without the pill as he’s come to be known for with it. His ability to disrupt opposing mauls is another aspect of his game on the up.

9. Finlay Christie – 5
Didn’t have a lot to work with in the first 40 as his team kept coughing it up. When the Blues found their groove, his service was noticeably sharper and his forwards looked more organised with the extra barking.

10. Stephen Perofeta – 6
Doesn’t look as comfortable at 10 as he does when deployed at the back. With less time on the ball he struggled to break things open, so instead he put boot to ball with a couple of nice dabs across-field and in behind. Put the game to bed for the second week in a row after crossing the chalk with five to go.

11. Caleb Clarke – 6
Bombed a try carrying the ball loosely in one hand, but more than made up for it from then on. The winger was strong in the carry when he had the ball secured and was solid defensively down his flank or while covering. Looked to have capped the night off with an intercept to make it a bonus-point win, but the TMO went on to wipe it.

12. Bryce Heem – 6
Could be forgiven for poor timing on certain lines with his lack of experience in the midfield, although the same can’t be said about his handling errors. Was put to work on the other side of the ball and can be proud of his output with 16 tackles and two misses.

13. Rieko Ioane – 5
Was the beneficiary of being the last set of hands close to the line, but aside from that, it was a quiet night from the All Black on attack. Didn’t make any noise on defence either, but you can put that down to a lack of traffic down his channel and his opposite failing to ask any questions.

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14. Mark Telea – 7
Spent most of the night chasing kicks and that resulted in fewer run metres than the rest of the back three. However, he was instrumental in the lead up to two of his side’s three tries in the second half with his trademark jink and aerial prowess.

15. Zarn Sullivan – 8
A stellar game from a player who has shown no signs of letting up since being given a chance. Defused 90% of the kicks sent his way and had Highlanders slipping off him every time he carried. Shared the kicking duties with Perofeta to get their team down the right end of the park and showed off the leg with a penalty from well inside his own half.

Reserves:

16. Soane Vikena – N/A

17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 5
Steadied the scrum up after his team found themselves going backwards in the first spell.

18. Jordan Lay – 5
Kept his side’s momentum rolling by delivering in his core role.

19. James Tucker – 5
Produced a lovely offload for Choat as the clock wound down after being brought on for the elder statesman, Romano, with half an hour to go.

20. Adrian Choat – N/A

21. Taufa Funaki – N/A

22. Tanielu Tele’a – N/A

23. Jacob Kneepkens – N/A

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