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Blues player ratings vs Hurricanes | Super Rugby Pacific

By Tom Vinicombe
Mark Telea. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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Despite dominating possession and territory for much of the match and at one stage holding a 32-14 lead, the Blues have fallen to defeat against the Hurricanes in Dunedin.

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The Hurricanes scored the first try of the game through an intercept but the Blues looked the better side for the bulk of the game, controlling the momentum and continually putting the Hurricanes under immense pressure. With eight minutes left on the clock and holding an 11-point lead, few would have expected anything but a win for the Aucklanders, in their first match of the season.

It wasn’t to be, however, with Salesi Rayasi and Ardie Savea scoring tries in the final moments of the game to nab the Hurricanes the win.

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Pablo Matera joins the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
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Pablo Matera joins the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

How did the Blues rate in their defeat?

1. Alex Hodgman – 6.5/10
Part of a forwards pack that helped dominate their opposition, particularly at lineout time. Outside of his core duties, however, Hodgman was relatively anonymous throughout the match, preferring to support his teammates with their carries rather than putting in too many of his own.

2. Kurt Eklund – 8
Safe as houses at lineout time and industrious around the park on both attack and defence. Surprised everyone – most importantly the Hurricanes defenders – when he popped off the back of a maul early in the third quarter for a relatively long run-in for a try. Fell over the line later in the half for his second.

3. Nepo Laulala – 7.5
Showed soft hands on attack in the first half and was always looking to get involved. Strong at the scrum and the lineout and put in a solid shift.

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4. Luke Romano – 7
Put his hand up to make plenty of carries early in the piece for some good gains. He’s not Patrick Tuipulotu, but he’s an excellent signing for the Blues in every facet of the game. Solid without ever setting the world alight and would have been a good man to have on the park in the dying moments when the Blues were short of leaders. Off in 59th minute.

5. Josh Goodhue – 8.5
Great steal in the first minute of the match to get the Blues hot on attack and managed to win possession for his side on multiple occasions. An exceptional performance, from the first minutes to the last. It was a much-needed showing from the 26-year-old, especially given the Blues lost their two first-choice second-rowers in the off-season.

 

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6. Tom Robinson – 7
Looked good popping up on the wing early and was a nuisance for the Hurricanes in the lineout, always putting the opposition jumpers under pressure. Managed one steal at the set-piece. Off in 64th minute.

7. Adrian Choat – 7
Solid on either side of the ball and put in a very good shift on defence. An ample performance in place of regular captain Dalton Papalii but not one that will cause any selection conundrums for the coaches. Topped the tackle chart with 20 to his name. Combined well with Hoskins Sotutu to hold up the Hurricanes ball-carrier late in the second half and force a turnover.

8. Hoskins Sotutu – 7.5
Industrious, got stuck into the nitty-gritty. Showed his wide range of skills either side of the 20-minute mark with a nice one-handed pick-up from the ruck and a well-placed kick over the Hurricanes backline. A useful lineout option to boot.

9. Finlay Christie – 8
Continued his strong form from where he finished off last year. Showed great zip to keep up the high pace of the game when the Blues were assaulting the Hurricanes’ defensive line. Got some good distance on his box kicks. Made a crucial tackle on Ardie Savea when the Hurricanes were ready to attack in the red zone, disrupting the ball which ultimately helped lead to a turnover. Off in 59th minute.

10. Harry Plummer – 5
Played an almost entirely distributory role, never challenging the line but always giving good service to the men outside him. With all the talent in the world in the backline, that’s not a bad idea. Made an excellent catch on his own high ball to give the Blues prime attacking ball in the second quarter – which his side promptly profited from. Needed to be more aggressive in the tackle for Rayasi’s third try and was flummoxed by Savea for the Hurricanes’ last. Will be having nightmares about the final few minutes of the match.

11. Caleb Clarke – 8
Balanced his game very well; threw passes at the right time, generally knew when to kick, and was always willing to tuck the ball and run – which he did for his first try. Clocked up over 100 metres on attack. Looked dangerous down the left wing – moreso than throughout 2021. One great take from a Blues kick-off. Made one break on the sideline where a pass in-field would have probably done the trick but he opted for the chip. Off in 76th minute.

12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck – 7.5
Looked excellent with his first two touches, gave the offload to Rieko Ioane that would have been a try if Ioane hadn’t lost his footing. Penalised for going off his feet at the breakdown and then late in the first half for not releasing the ball after being tackled – which he probably could have been pinged for a few times. Less prominent in the second half but an excellent start to his rugby union career. Made 15 tackles but it will be the last-minute miss on Bailyn Sullivan that he’ll probably remember most.

13. Rieko Ioane – 7
Always dangerous on the attack, generally beat at least one defender on every run. Made a great run but then cost his side a sure try when he failed to pass to an unmarked Mark Telea on his right. The Blues did, however, score from the very next lineout. Nice counter ruck early in the first half earned his team possession.

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14. Mark Telea – 8
Dangerous. Had a bit of second-year syndrome last season but looked back to his best against the Hurricanes, matching Clarke’s efforts with ball in hand. Excellent work under the high ball in the first half. Made a great read in the second half to intercept a Hurricanes pass during a period of confusion and raced away down the field. His only issue was he then kicked the ball out on the full.

15. Zarn Sullivan – 5
1/2 pens. Threw a skip pass which was picked out of the air by Salesi Rayasi – who was never going to be caught after taking the intercept. Made a nice run inside the Blues 22 for their second try of the game. Didn’t utilise his boot as well as we saw in 2021 – there were some good punts as well as some very ordinary ones. Off in 53rd minute.

Reserves:

16. Ricky Riccitelli – 7.5
On in 53rd minute. Continued Renata’s good work at lineout time. A good short pass sent Marcel Renata away on a damaging run. Made 10 tackles off the bench.

17. Ofa Tuungafasi – 6
On in 53rd minute. Missed a tackle on Brayden Iose but then put in an excellent hit on the same player moments later to halt the Hurricanes’ momentum.

18. Marcel Renata – 6
On in 53rd minute. Made one excellent carry in the 67th minute, beating multiple tacklers, and came so close to scoring what would have been a superb solo try.

19. Sam Darry – 6.5
On in 59th minute. Nabbed a turnover but then promptly gave the ball back to the Hurricanes. Grabbed a try for his toils off the bench.

20. Anton Segner – 6
On in 64th minute. One great run off a lineout, otherwise quiet.

21. Sam Nock – 7
On in 59th minute. Maintained the pace set by Christie earlier in the match. The Blues have a solid one-two punch here.

22. Stephen Perofeta – 7
On in 53rd minute. Very sharp – worthy of a start at the back based solely on Saturday night’s performance.

23. Tanielu Tele’a – N/A
On in 76th minute.

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