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Perofeta shines as slick Blues side put Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath to the sword

By Ben Smith
Corey Evans of Blues goes past a tackle by Naoto Saito of Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath during the preseason match between Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath and Blues at Prince Chichibu Rugby Ground on February 3, 2024 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

A slick Blues pre-season team put the Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath to the sword in front of All Blacks legends Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith, watching the cross-border fixture from the stands.


The Sungoliath did not field their big guns in Sam Cane and Cheslin Kolbe with the club on a break from the League One season where they have five wins from six so far. Similarly the Blues named a young outfit full of up and comers.

Leo Gordon and Corey Evans started in the midfield outside All Black Stephen Perofeta and Sam Nock in the halves, while New Zealand Sevens rep Caleb Tangitau, Kade Banks and Cole Forbes made up the back three.

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The Blues led 19-0 after 17 minutes as the Aucklanders ran rampant on a cold sunny afternoon in front of a healthy crowd at Prince Chichibunomiya stadium.

Second five-eighth Gordon burst through a handful of defenders after picking up a loose ball, setting up play a metre out. One phase later lock Sam Darry crashed over in front of the posts.

The Blues had their second try less than 10 minutes in when hooker Kurt Eckland powered over down the shortside on a trick lineout play.

A piece of Perofeta magic set up the third, with the N0 10 attacking the shortside from a scrum play. He skipped around his defender and drew in two more defenders before flicking an offload around the corner for wing Tangitau to score.



Sungoliath managed to hit back on the half hour mark with a well-worked set play for fullback Kotaro Matsushima.

But the Blues were never under threat and struck again just minutes into the second half through reserve halfback Taufa Funaki.

Gordon sparked the movement with hands to flanker Anton Segner on the edge, who placed a perfectly weighted grubber kick infield into the path of Funaki.

With options inside and out, Funaki took the hard option of beating the last man himself before crashing over for the try.


Tangitau had his second try just minutes later as the Blues threatened to really pile on the points at 29-7 after 45 minutes.

The Sungoliath showed some resolve with a scoreless 25 minute period before the Blues pounced on an error. No 8 Hoskins Sotutu boot the loose ball downfield and winger Banks outran everyone to score.

The Blues backs then put a dazzling display of hands on for a try for fullback Forbes after a brainfade error by the Sungoliath on their own line.

Centre Corey Evans was awarded man-of-the-match as the Blues won 43-7 in their first game under new head coach Vern Cotter playing an expansive game of rugby.


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