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Blues player ratings vs Hurricanes | Super Rugby Pacific

By Tom Vinicombe
Finlay Christie. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Blues have escaped from Wellington with a 25-19 victory over the Hurricanes to jump to second place on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder.

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While the Blues looked to have control of things in the first half, taking a 22-5 lead into the break, a yellow card to lock Cameron Suafoa opened the door for a Hurricanes comeback.

With the Blues ahead by just three points at the 50-minute mark, big defensive shifts from both sides in the last half-hour saw zero tries exchanged and the visitors were able to claim a well-deserved six-point win.

How did the Blues rate in the victory?

1. Joshua Fusitu’a – 5
Pinged for trying to secure a Blues ruck with illegal means during the opening exchanges then free-kicked later in the first half at the set-piece (although that may have been Nic Berry evening up the ledger after a questionable knock-on call). Hit breakdowns but not as influential as his front-row partners. Off in 48th minute.

2. Ricky Riccitelli – 7
Set the defensive standards with a good first-up tackle. Helped maintain momentum en route to the goal line for the Blues’ first try. Hit all eight of his lineout targets and looks to have taken over as the Blues’ first-choice hooker. Off in 52nd minute.

3. James Lay – 6
Made a couple of great carries early doors and got through plenty of work on defence. Safe at the set-piece. Off in 52nd minute.

4. Patrick Tuipulotu – 6
Grabbed the first try of the night with a pick-and-go near the line. Had to leave the field injured just as he started to warm into the action. Off in 25th minute.

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5. Cameron Suafua – 5
Sin-binned in the 48th minute for a high tackle – somehow escaping a red – with the Blues conceding two tries in his absence. Defended stoutly throughout the match but was lucky to remain on the field.

6. Tom Robinson – 6
Made the first sizeable carry to help kick things off for the Blues’ opening score. Popped up regularly on the wing – and made good gains. Took one lineout. Off in 60th minute.

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7. Dalton Papali’i – 8
Amongst his 17 tackles, put in a couple of punishing hits on defence. Copped one penalty for not rolling away at the breakdown but generally forced Cam Roigard and Jamie Booth to play with disrupted ball. A solid captain’s knock.

8. Hoskins Sotutu – 7
Pinged two or three times in quick succession at the beginning of the second quarter, with the Hurricanes eventually grabbing a try. Somehow managed to hold onto the ball with one hand as he tumbled towards the line, planting it on the pain for the Blues’ third. Made a great run of the back of the scrum late-game but found himself isolated from his supporting runners. Grabbed a turnover to temporarily shut down the Hurricanes’ next foray.

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9. Finlay Christie – 7
Struggled with very scrappy ball at the breakdown. Redeemed himself somewhat in the second half with some excellent pestering of replacement Hurricanes halfback Booth. Made a great cover tackle on a rampaging Jordie Barrett to prevent an almost certain try. Off in 73rd minute.

10. Beauden Barrett – 5
Was surprisingly not a massively prominent figure for the Blues on the night, especially after quickly ceding goal-kicking duties to Stephen Perofeta. Had to tidy up a few messes behind the breakdown and looked composed when doing so, but somehow finished the match without having to make a single tackle. An oddity.

11. Caleb Clarke – 6
Made a nice jinking run to score the Blues’ second of the evening and snaffled one breakdown turnover. Off in 73rd minute.

12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – 6
Saw plenty of ball in the first half but faded as the game went on. Wasn’t able to show off his lightning feet on too many occasions, normally receiving the ball in traffic. Copped a big fend from Peter Lakai. Nabbed one good offensive high-ball take under pressure. Off in 60th minute.

13. Rieko Ioane – 8
Made some typically blistering runs in the midfield. Forced a crucial penalty when the Hurricanes were in the midst of a dangerous counterattack. Always looked dangerous.

14. AJ Lam – 7
Probably didn’t see as much ball on attack as he would have liked, but still carved up when given the opportunity. Made a couple of nice kicks to keep the Hurricanes pinned inside their own half and a had a fair bit of traffic come his way on defence.

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15. Stephen Perofeta – 7
Glided around Billy Proctor from a scrum and set up the Blues’ first real attacking foray of the evening. Threw a (very) flat pass out Clarke on the wing which gave the All Black enough space to step his way to the try line. A poorly executed high kick handed the Hurricanes easy ball, with Salesi Rayasi eventually busting through the line for a try. Reliable off the tee.

Reserves:

16. Kurt Eklund – 3
On in 52nd minute. Came onto the field and the Blues lineout fell to bits, with the Blues losing four of their five deliveries. Dropped one pass. Contributed well on defence.

17. Alex Hodgman – 7
On in 48th minute. Put his hand up on the carry, trucking the ball up on seven occasions. Kept his side of the scrum stable.

18. Nepo Laulala – 5
On in 52nd minute. Penalised for an off-the-ball clearout. Also pinged at the last scrum of the match, handing the Hurricanes prime attacking ball.

19. James Tucker – 8
On in 25th minute. Took over lineout calling duties and things seemed to be going to plan until a change at hooker. Was the second busiest tackler for the Blues despite missing the first quarter of the match and threw himself into everything. A major factor in his team’s success.

20. Adrian Choat – 6
On in 60th minute. Disrupted the Hurricanes’ ball at the breakdown but wasn’t quite as big a presence as the man he replaced, Tom Robinson.

21. Taufa Funaki – N/A
On in 73rd minute.

22. Bryce Heem – 6
On in 60th minute. Made a couple of nice runs but saw little ball during his time on the park.

23. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens – N/A
On in 73rd minute.

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Shaylen 5 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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