Blues player ratings vs Reds | Super Rugby Trans-Tasman
The home team had playmakers James O’Connor and Bryce Hegarty pull out hours before the match but put up a plucky display, closing the gap in the closing stanza to grab a bonus point.
Conversely, the Blues missed out on a bonus point so they’ll be watching the Hurricanes closely in Canberra.
The Blues have started to look a lot more organised in attack and defence in the last month, and they were able to dictate play with the front foot ball they got from their meaty pack.
Here’re the Blues’ ratings.
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe – 6
Steady as you like in the set piece but will be under pressure from Hodgman for the starting role. Is what he is (a scrummaging beast!) but didn’t contribute as much as his team mate in the open. Off at 52.
2. Kurt Eklund – 7
Was one of the leaders in defence. Nice, low tackling style and showed good speed getting up and closing down the Reds’ defence. The set piece was also good, Eklund’s line out combos are working well. Off at 60.
3. Ofa Tuungafasi – 6
Building back from his knee injury. A couple of errors in open play; stats showed only a 50% tackling completion rate and a rudimentary handling mistake just before halftime. Off at 52 .
4. Patrick Tuipulotu – 7.5
Welcome back skip! He was like a 16lb bowling bowl churning out an average of 3 metres in each of his 11 carries and a try. Good distribution out the back for Telea’s try and a lineout steal in the 41st minute to set the Blues up at the start in the second half. He’ll be unhappy he didn’t spot Wilson running the lovely line off Paisami for the Reds first try. Off at 64.
5. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti – 7
If there was a Super Rugby unsung hero award the gutsy lock would be right up there in contention. He has played all 12 games for the Blues this season and just keeps going. 19 tackles, 2 turnovers, beating Papalii as top tackler and a nifty lineout steal at 42 minutes. Off at 66.
6. Tom Robinson – 7.5
He has really improved vastly since we saw him first play at 6 for the Blues. We still get the pumped up energy, now his physicality and understanding of the game has made him such an important asset for the Blues. Two standouts he would’ve enjoyed, stopping Tupou who was charging like a rhino in the 14th minute and bounced off Vunivalu in the 34th.
7. Dalton Papalii – 7
Workman-like outing from the high-performer. He didn’t get the chance with the ball in hand apart from the close-quarters try but claimed 18 tackles.
8. Akira Ioane – 7
Loves the contact and wins the contact. Strong work with ball in hand, a very difficult man to tackle. I jotted down the 7th, 11th and 40th minutes where he smashed across the advantage line to get substantial go-forward. He also had some aggressive tackles, on Henry in the 10th minute and Scott Young in the 40th. He did spoil it a couple of times, penalised twice by lying around the ball. He won the Maradona award with a lovely trap with his foot in the 53rd minute from a goal line drop out. Off at 60.
“I think it was a bit of a wake-up call, to be honest.”
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) June 4, 2021
9. Finlay Christie- 7
For me, one of the biggest reasons the Blues have hit their straps in the last month is because of the regular starts Christie is getting at halfback. Got himself a try with the sneaky dot down. Off at 60.
10. Otere Black – 6
Is Mr Undercover in a lot of ways, makes the plays and isn’t scared of taking a shot if it means setting up his outsides. Doesn’t overplay his hand. Off at 64.
11. Mark Telea – 7
The wing hasn’t been sighted for a while, he got a start on the unfamiliar left wing and made every post a winner. Ran with conviction and then went looking for some work in-field and prospered with a try. Got across the try line in the 43rd minute but couldn’t dot down. It’s great to see him back in the groove as he’s an elusive, slippery eel.
12. TJ Faiane – 7
Good straight running to set targets in the midfield and orchestrated the breakout at 17 minutes that got Sullivan into space. Tackled like a demon and keep the dangerous Reds’ centres in check.
13. Rieko Ioane – 6
Nice save in defence in the 3rd minute from a Wilson breakout. A quiet night for the centre but sometimes the ball just doesn’t come your way.
14. Bryce Heem – 6.5
Beefy Bryce managed to bump off a defender or two and ran for 65 metres in the 1st half. Stopped seeing the ball in the second half and off at 60.
15. Zarn Sullivan – 7
Is becoming an important part of the Blues line-up and it’s hard to see him giving up his spot to Perofeta. He’s by no means the finished article but with his left-foot kicking game I’m sure he’s a coach’s favourite. Also displays some sublime skill, the 25metre pass off the left hand to Heem in the 17th minute was a pearler and some amazing balls in tight spaces. Top metre eater for his team, saved a try with a scything tackle on Daugunu in the 47th minute but then inexplicably chose not to compete in the air minutes later with Daugunu which allowed him to score easily; a lesson for the young fullback.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 4, 2021
16. Soane Vikena – 6.5
On at 60. Lovely work in the pod freeing up runners. Looks like a real prospect.
17. Alex Hodgman – 7
On at 52 and in 28 minutes tagged 13 tackles. Incredible! Showed a hunger that he wants his starting spot back and probably needs it to get more game time and keep his All Black chances alive.
18. Nepo Laulala – 6
On at 52. Had a funny moment where he picked up a ball from a ruck in a very offside position but had the last laugh with a genuine turnover later.
19. Jacob Pierce – N/A
On at 64.
20. Hoskins Sotutu- 7
On at 60, got some good metre numbers from kick returns and 8 hefty tackles.
21. Jonathan Ruru – 5
On at 60. Joined as the Blues started to hang on and couldn’t recreate the fluidity his team enjoys with Christie on the paddock.
22. Harry Plummer – 5
On at 64. Knocked on first ball.
23. AJ Lam – 6
On at 60. Good defence around 77 minutes with three tackles in 10 secs. Didn’t get a chance in space.
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