Super Rugby Aotearoa is done and dusted for round one, with the Hurricanes falling to the Blues 16-31 at Sky Stadium, Wellington.
It was the Blues who struck first, with Dalton Papalii scoring in bizarre circumstances. But despite having plenty of ball in attacking positions ,the Blues ended up trailing at the break.
Even though Hurricanes lock James Blackwell was sent to the sin bin in the 32nd minute, two Jordie Barrett penalties just before the break saw the hosts lead 11-7 at half-time.
But tries to Caleb Clarke, Stephen Perofeta and Rieko Ioane saw the Blues run away with a bonus-point win to open their season.
Here’s how the Hurricanes rated against the Blues at Sky Stadium.
- JORDIE BARRETT – 7.5
The highlight of Barrett’s night was without a doubt, a 53-metre penalty just before the break that handed the Hurricanes a one-point lead when they were down to 14-men. He converted another penalty a few minutes later, helping the Canes lead by four at the break. His Rugby IQ was great, and he made some good decision in attack. Expect him and the Canes backline to grow throughout the season – it’s only round one.
Fans have taken to social media to express their confusion at a controversial call by the assistant referees that denied Jordie Barrett a conversion that appeared to be successful. #HURvBLU #SuperRugbyAotearoa https://t.co/IR3mJV6rYr
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 27, 2021
- WES GOOSEN – 6.5
Goosen was pretty well contained against the Blues, not getting the ball in space as much as he probably would’ve liked. He finished the night with five runs for 23 metres, but also made five tackles. He made an immediate impact in the second-half, tackling Caleb Clarke into touch after the Blues winger received the kick-off.
- BILLY PROCTOR – 6.5
At half-time, Proctor had made an equal team high four tackles. He only missed one tackle by the time he was subbed off, and had run the second most metres of any Hurricanes player with 25. He’s a reliable option but probably would’ve liked more of a chance to shine.
- NGANI LAUMAPE – 6
Laumape simply couldn’t make an impact against the Blues. While he was involved in the break that led to Aumua’s first try, he wasn’t given much room to move during the opening forty. When he was subbed off in the 74th minute, he’d had four runs for 0 metres run, made one tackle and also conceded a turnover.
- JULIAN SAVEA – 6
Less than two minutes into the match, The Bus announced himself back onto the Super Rugby scene with an impressive run. Unfortunately though, that’s for the most part, all we saw of Julian Savea. He also had an impressive run off a scrum move, running right over the top of Mark Telea, but the ball didn’t really come his way otherwise.
- JACKSON GARDEN-BACHOP – 7
Garden-Bachop probably could’ve done more on Saturday night to have a significant impact, but he did what was asked of him. He helped control the sides tempo in attack, and stay patient when needed. He’ll improve as the season goes along.
- JONATHAN TAUMATEINE – 7
Taumateine had some pretty big shoes to fill, replacing TJ Perenara who is playing in Japan’s Top League at the moment. For the most part he played quite well, helping control the Hurricanes tempo in attack. Still has plenty of development left in him, but there were some promising signs from the 24-year-old.
- DEVAN FLANDERS – 6.5
Work rate always reflects well on players and Flanders’ was a solid example of this. He had seven carries with the ball, and also made five tackles
- ARDIE SAVEA – 8.5
One of the all-time Hurricanes greats. Was a fantastic moment to see him walk out with his brother Julian ahead of Ardie’s 100th Super Rugby cap, as he also took over the captaincy reigns. Twice during the first-half, Ardie secured crucial penalties at the breakdown with the Blues hot on attack. His Rugby IQ was always quite impactful as well, as he played what was in front of him to an elite standard. His work in the leadup to Aumua’s first try was a perfect example of this. He was one of, if not the hardest working player wearing a yellow jersey on Saturday night, constantly running hard and putting his body on the line.
- VAEA FIFITA – 6
Fifita had a moment to forget early on in the match. With the Hurricanes looking to counter from inside their own 22, the 28-year-old was calling for the ball but looked away at the wrong time – he ended up dropping it clean. The ball was regathered by Dalton Papalii who ran in for the opening score. Other than that, he had four runs and made one tackle.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 27, 2021
- SCOTT SCRAFTON – 6
Scrafton put in a solid shift against his old side, doing plenty of work around the breakdown and at the lineout. He struggled otherwise to make an impact, finishing with just two tackles and two runs. He was unfortunately helped off the field with an injury early in the second-half.
- JAMES BLACKWELL – 6
Normally Blackwell is one of my favourite players week to week for the Hurricanes, but his performance against the Blues on Saturday night wasn’t one of his best in my opinion. He applied plenty of pressure on the Blues lineout when he was on the park, but didn’t get any steals. In the 32nd minute, the 25-year-old was sent to the sin bin. His discipline was poor on the night, giving away a few penalties. He did end up improving his performance though, making an equal team high seven tackles – his work rate is always his most impressive trait.
- TYREL LOMAX – 6
The Blues front row of James Lay, Kurt Eklund and All Black Nepo Laulala got the better of the Hurricanes. Lomax did however make five tackles without missing any, and got his hands on the ball as well with three runs. He was putting in the work around the park.
- ASAFO AUMUA – 8
In place of the injured Dane Coles, Aumua was one of the Hurricanes’ best on ground. The All Black scored an incredible solo try in the 6th minute, that not many other players would’ve come close to scoring. Less than two minutes after the Blues opener, Aumua broke through Eklund and Perofeta, fended off Rieko Ioane, and reached out for the try-line as he wasn’t held. He scored his second in the 63rd, getting his side back into the match. Aumua also did his core job perfectly, going nine from nine when throwing into the lineout.
- FRASER ARMSTRONG – 5.5
The Blues got the better of the Hurricanes front row during the first half, and that has to reflect in Armstrong’s rating. He also did haven’t a single carry with the ball, but did make four tackles.
- RICKY RICCITELLI – 5.5
- XAVIER NUMIA – 5
- ALEX FIDOW – 5.5
- REED PRINSEP – 6.5
- DU’PLESSIS KIRIFI – 6.5
Kirifi had a breakout season with the Hurricanes last year, but was still named on the bench for the opening match of the 2021 campaign. He came on in the 43rd minute and almost immediately, gave away a penalty for a late tackle. Then 10 minutes after coming on, he was yellow carded. Wasn’t the greatest cameo off the bench. He did go on to make an equal team high for tackles with seven, which is very impressive considering he came off the bench.
- LUKE CAMPBELL – 5.5
- PETER UMAGA-JENSEN – 7
A really positive injection of energy once he came on. Looked threatening whenever he got his hands on the ball.
- SALESI RAYASI – 5
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