Blues player ratings vs Waratahs | Super Rugby Pacific
The Blues have laid down the theory that they not only have a winning team but they’re a winning club, with a gutsy 20-17 victory over the Waratahs. That’s 13 in a row, a club record.
They had the luxury of a guaranteed position at the top of table at the end of the round robin, so that allowed Leon McDonald to give opportunities to players who have played auxiliary roles so far this season. They may have been short of star power but there was a surplus of desire and bravery.
The Waratahs scrum that had marmalised the Hurricanes a couple of weeks ago was left in tatters. The period between 30 mins and halftime where the Blues were two men down, squad players stepped up and showed steely resolve to outscore the opposition 3-0, and denying the Waratahs a half a dozen times on attack.
It seemed like the lack of match play caught up with the heroic Kiwis as on the 50 minute mark the Waratahs opened their account and got momentum as the Blues starters’ energy ebbed. But another wave of heroes emerged off the bench to give the club a win that will pay dividends in future years, as young players showed they have the ‘right stuff’.
Here’re the Blues’ ratings:
1. Jordan Lay – 8/10
It was an immense effort from the loosehead, especially at scrum time. The penalty at 30 minutes with two men down and backs on side of scrum was his high point. He gave Holz a pummelling and his opposite was hooked at halftime. A brilliant hit in the 45th minute on Hooper, it may have been satisfying but he crocked himself and off he went.
2. Ricky Riccitelli – 7.5
Lost couple of lineouts early but his ability at first receiver and the starch he showed in clean outs was awesome to watch. Got smashed by Hooper in the face but ironically his toughness probably got the Tahs captain off. Some wags may suggest if it was the other way, the NSW No 7 would have been writhing on the ground like an Italian striker.
3. Nepo Laulala – 8
A big assignment against the best loosehead in the comp but delivered in spades. Good scrum penalties in the 14th and 21st that were directly against Bell. Nepo was a bit slow rolling away in the 24th, he always seems to have one brain fade. Off at 52.
4. Luke Romano © – 9
Given the captaincy as a reward for his leadership at the club and gave it all. Looked like Rocky with a mask of blood on his face from 50 minutes and carried and cleaned like a madman. The hippo like charge at 75 and a try that changed the course of the match, it’s a mark of the great man that he’s been a club man all his career, at two clubs now.
5. Josh Goodhue – 7
Was a good foil to Romano and he was the main lineout source. Got offside at the 25th mark in a ruck that led to the sustained pressure and yellow cards. Off at 54.
6. Anton Segner – 5
An unfortunate day at the office for Herr Segner, off in the 12th minute, rolling his ankle after landing awkwardly at the lineout.
7. Adrian Choat – 7.5
Got yellow carded after being obscured by Hooper in open play and hitting Vailanu high. A big hit on hooper at 62. Was only credited with 8 tackles but seemed to involved with double that. Looks to have built his upper body strength up and that shows in contact.
8. Taine Plumtree – 8
It was great young Plums back after his cameo in March when he scored 2 tries back vs the Highlanders. But it wasn’t his coruscating skills in the open that stood out, it was in the trenches. He particularly stepped up when his two flanker mates were in the bin before halftime but he kept going until 76.
9. Sam Nock – 6
Seemed to not find his rhythm for a while, he had difficulty timing his arrival at the breakdown and some of the service was sloppy early doors. But he wound up and made his mark in defence; an amazing turnover at 39 minutes after the Newsome break and good cover D again at 43. Off at 69.
10. Jock McKenzie – 7.5
I was lucky enough to commentate on him when he was starring at Westlake Boys, he always seems to have a Carter-esque steadiness that shows he has plenty of time. I did wonder whether at Super level that his movement may be found out as too slow but he was good. Isn’t shy to take the ball to the line but a a dropsy early and lost his support a couple of times. Off at 54.
11. AJ Lam – 4.5
Quiet in first half. May have got a gee up at halftime and got a carry early in the second half but held up. Blues need more of him from next week if he starts.
12. Corey Evans – 7.5
I like this guy’s technique. His tackling is flawless, his body position with ball in hand is effective and hard to defend. Top tackler along with Plumtree and is one for the future.
13. Tamati Tua – 7
I always like watching this guy at NPC level he never leaves anything on the park and it was the same today. He slipped off Foketi at 19 but was a willing ball carrier sometimes on the wings, I don’t know where the wings were! Loved his efforts at flanker when his team won the scrum penalty in the 31st minute!
14. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens – 5.5
Has pace aplenty and got some yards under his belt carrying from the backfield but there was some unconvincing decision making. Crocked at 50 minutes, limped around and got caught out on defence and in the backfield a couple of times.
15. Zarn Sullivan – 8
A good start with some raking punts off the left foot. A great Thor hammer of a tackle on Donaldson at to keep Waratahs out during 2 man deficit. Then he went into a slump during the second half, a couple of times putting the ball out on the full. No one will remember those though after his last minute snapped dropped goal. A sign that the Blues are recruiting well now is all of these young men who were playing 1st XV three years ago are stepping up. Young men with something special.
16. Soane Vikena – 8 – On at 58 and a watershed match for the young rake in my opinion; he stamped his mark right from the get go with an aggressive turnover. Good set piece and right up Romano’s bum as he crashed over the line. Showed a real fervour and lost the nervousness we’d seen at times this year.
17. Karl Tu’inukuafe – 7 – On at 45 and tried hard with ball in hand and on defence. Chased down a wing who wanted the outside break from him at one stage.
18. Marcel Renata – 6 – On at 52. Tried to fight hard and ripped into some strong defence. Gave up the scrum penalty where the Tahs equalised with moment to go.
19. Sam Darry – N/A – On at 76.
20. Cameron Suafoa – 7.5 – On at 54 at lock before Darry and impressed with some very angry carries creating some big dents in the Waratahs line. A try was a good reward for his efforts. Got some good lineout ball too although missed a throw at 72. Ended the match at blindside.
21. Akira Ioane – 7.5- On at 12 mins after Segners misfortune. It actually worked in the Blues favour in the end as Akira made valuable metres and carried valiantly. Slightly unfortunate with the yellow card as he had read the rolling maul and folded quickly to shut down the sortie in the 28th minute but wrapped his arm high from the crouching Vailanu.
22. Taufa Funaki – 6 – On at 69 and played his part in the victory with accurate passing, including the final one that led to the dropped goal.
23. Nigel Ah-Wong – 5.5 – On at 54 and this man is getting a Jack Nicklaus-sized cache of clubs in his bag.