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Blues player ratings vs Moana Pasifika | Super Rugby Pacific

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

The Blues made 14 changes to the side that won in Dunedin for a short turnaround to take on Moana Pasifika at Mt Smart Stadium, where they had recorded a historic overtime victory over the Hurricanes just four days ago.

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The Tuesday night fixture became a battle of the packs as the Blues found immediate dominance at scrum time with their experienced All Blacks but Moana Pasifika came back strong at the lineout time with a couple of driving maul tries.

Moana Pasifika had their chances but the Blues came up with the win 32-19. Here’s how the winners rated:

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Aotearoa Rugby Pod | Episode 7

1. Alex Hodgman – 7.5/10

Won scrum penalty early with dominance over Joe Apikotoa, popping him up. Good hands in the carry with his tip passes. The Blues front row crushed Moana at scrum time with two scrum penalties won inside first 15 mins and another turnover against the feed.

2. Ricky Riccitelli – 7

Good line speed early coming round the corner. Throwing was good to the front, middle and back but overthrew one in the first half that Moana scooped up. Scored from a pick and go after a strong maul by the Blues pack, and then scored his second after another good lineout drive. Off in 57th in a solid performance.

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3. Nepo Laulala – 4

The 30-year-old had some solid tackles in close. Won a scrum penalty in 13th minute as part of a Blues pack that absolutely dominated Moana early. Was penalised for a dangerous clean out midway through the second half that made contact with the head and was red carded.

A really crucial turning point which gave Moana the momentum back as the Blues had just earned scoreboard ascendency at 24-12.

4. Luke Romano (c) – 7

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Was the Blues second line out option on the night. Solid work across the park, gain line carries and some nice offloads. Ran the line out efficiently. Came up with a great maul sack after Moana had scored from two and were going for a third maul try at a crucial time. Then he came up with a maul try himself at the other end. Penalised for going off feet with 15 to go when Blues were looking for the knock out blow.

Provided invaluable experience for a young Blues second row and back row.

5. Sam Darry – 6

Safe line out option for the Blues that won a lot of clean ball. Carried well at times but knocked on after the Blues maul attempt got sacked in great field position. Had some nice offloads but failed to impose in maul defence.

6. Taine Plumtree – 5.5

Stationed out on the edge to find running opportunities but did not get many. Got monstered by a two-man Moana tackle close to the line and turned the ball over. Penalised at the maul for side entry and was part of an ineffective maul defence that failed to hold Moana out two times. Off in the 64th minute.

7. Adrian Choat – 5

Some solid tackles early to force Moana behind the gain line on their opening set piece launches. Industrious work in inside channels and held his own in defence. Lacked the ability to turn the ball over as the Blues didn’t really compete at the ruck all night.

8. Anton Segner – 6.5

Used as a carry option off set-piece effectively on short line out packages to help Blues exit and get gain line. Had a knock on out wide in the first half. Was unluckly to be penalised in 63rd minute for getting a ruck contest wrong. Added some ruck pressure for the Blues late in the game that had been missing and he had a big lineout steal with 13 mins to go.

9. Taufa Funaki – 6.5

Crisp passing overall providing good service for his ball runners. Kicked one box kick well forcing a handling error. Looked dangerous sniping around the ruck. His delivery was solid and looks a great prospect. Off in the 60th minute.

10. Stephen Perofeta – 6 

Took a short side run early on the first Blues lineout in a confident display of line running. Managed field position well in the first half, tried his hand with some attacking kicks and orchestrated the Blues attacking shapes well with nice control.

Kicked out on the full to start the second half which critically Moana took advantage of, giving them a wave of possession in the second half. Perofeta was hardly seen until late in the game once the Blues finally got the ball back. His goal kicking was inconsistent, kicking three from six, which helped keep Moana in the game.

A mixed performance with a solid first half and disappeared in the second.

11. AJ Lam – 6

A couple of strong carries down the left hand side and solid defence on the edge when asked. Shot up a couple of times to put pressure on. Made a big driving tackle on a Moana kick returner that won a penalty for the Blues. Didn’t really get the ball to do much in attack.

12. Tanielu Tele’a – 6.5

Strong defence in the midfield early. After the Blues won a scrum against the feed, threaded a smart grubber in for a try assist. Some great defence in the second half to hold up Solomona Kata in the in-goal. Had those two big plays which made a meaningful impact.

13. Tamati Tua – 5

Pushed an offload to turn over the ball on Blues first real attacking possession. Scored opening try off a Telea grubber kick. Played on the right wing to finish the last twenty in what was a rather quiet night.

14. Mark Telea – 5

Wasn’t as explosive as he was against the Highlanders understandably, but showed up well. Won a tackle turnover stripping Moana’s outside centre Fine Inisi whilst defending in the Blues’ first five channel.

15. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens – 7

Was very safe in the backfield under the high ball. Returned kicks well with explosive speed but pushed the pass once. Got caught holding on after trying some footwork. Took a nice high ball catch under pressure before getting hit in the air.

Combined with Tele’a to make a great try-saving tackle early in the second half. Did all he could to try defuse a Moana cross-field kick that unfortunately was expertly regathered and scored by Tomasi Alosio. Made a late line break combining with Christie around the ruck that led to the halfback’s try.

Overall was one of the Blues most involved and promising players on the night.

Reserves

16. Soane Vikena – 5.5 – on in 57th after Nepo red card for Riccitelli. Missed his first line out throw but made a couple of strong carries afterward and got his line out throwing right.

17. Josh Fusitua – N/A on in 78th minute.

18. Karl Tu’inukuafe – N/A on in 77th minute.

19. Cameron Suafoa – 5 – came up with Blues only steal at the ruck winning a holding on penalty.

20. Vaiolini Ekuasi – N/A – on in 76th minute.

21. Finlay Christie – 6.5 – on in 61st minute. Made a crucial one-on-one tackle on Moana wing in the open field to put him over the sideline. Controlled play well during a late possession and scored a try close to the line to put the Blues up 29-19.

22. Corey Evans – 5 – on in 64th minute. First touch a strong carry and played hard during his time on the field. Showed some good footwork.

23. Jock McKenzie – N/A – on in 74th minute.

 

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