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Hurricanes ruin Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's Blues debut with last-gasp try

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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The Hurricanes have ruined Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s Blues debut in stunning fashion by scoring a last-minute try through Ardie Savea to clinch a 33-32 win in Dunedin.

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Tuivasa-Sheck played a crucial role in the final play of the match as he missed a tackle on Hurricanes centre Bailyn Sullivan, who broke the line and ultimately set Savea away for his try down the right-hand flank.

Ruben Love’s conversion – which proved controversial as the Blues demanded the TMO check it despite it sailing through from right out in front – ensured the Hurricanes secured their first win over 2022, but it only came after a frantic final 10 minutes.

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During that time, Hurricanes wing Salesi Rayasi scored two well-taken tries to complete a hat-trick and bring the Hurricanes to within touching distance despite trailing by 18 points as the clock ticked into the 70th minute.

Prior to his defensive mishap, Tuivasa-Sheck enjoyed a promising start to life in Super Rugby Pacific, impressing with ball in hand, but it wasn’t to be for the former NRL star, who showed glimpses of class in his opening half of action.

The 2018 Dally M Medallist’s power, footwork and offloading prowess was all on show as he worked well in tandem with fellow midfielder Rieko Ioane in a high-tempo fixture.

Tuivasa-Sheck naturally stole the limelight due to his stature as the biggest cross-code athlete since the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess, but he wasn’t the only star to shine.

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Blues lock Josh Goodhue had the game of his career in the second row, while Ioane and Blues wing Caleb Clarke both looked in fine touch, with the latter scoring his side’s second try after Kurt Eklund opened their account off the back of a rolling maul.

Eklund’s 23rd minute try, one of two he scored in the first half, came after Hurricanes flyer Salesi Rayasi picked off a Zarn Sullivan pass to score an unlikely long range try after the Blues dominated the opening passages of play.

Rayasi went on to play an integral role for the Hurricanes, strolling in untouched following some strong phase play by the Hurricanes late in the second half, before sensationally completing his hat-trick seven minutes later.

That – with the help of a Sam Darry try and an exchange of points through the boots of Harry Plummer, Jordie Barrett and Love, who was superb upon his induction into the match off the bench – helped pave the way for the match’s grandstand finish.

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Given the hype and anticipation surrounding the Blues this season, the result is likely to come as a shock to the rest of the competition and leaves the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman champions in search of their first win of the year.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, rise to sixth place after succumbing to defeat against the Crusaders last weekend, and will look to continue their hot game-finishing form into next Saturday’s clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Hurricanes 33 (Tries to Salesi Rayasi (3), Wes Goosen and Ardie Savea; 2 conversions to Jordie Barrett, 2 conversions to Ruben Love)

Blues 32 (Tries to Kurt Eklund (2), Caleb Clarke and Sam Darry; 3 conversions and 2 penalties to Harry Plummer)

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