On a wet and wild Waikato night the Blues had a big challenge on their hands. The conditions didn’t play into their strengths and in the first half they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot at the breakdown. They were on the wrong side of an 8-1 penalty count in the first 40 and lost Dalton Papalii for ten minutes on the eve of halftime.
The coaches delivered the remedy for their woes at halftime and the players had obviously listened and responded strongly. They only conceded 3 penalties in the 2nd half and surged away in the last quarter for an impressive victory.
15. Beauden Barrett – 8
A consummate display of game management from the new recruit. Blues fans are used to the frustration of watching their team struggle to get out of their half, not this year. Barrett ensured that the Blues had territorial dominance in the first half with only 40% possession. Then he moved to first five at 61 mins, added good direction and a cool as a cucumber dropped goal that pushed the lead to 16-12 at a crucial stage.
14. Mark Telea – 7
Had a quiet first half, but was more visible in the second 40. Good Houdini-like escape escape on defence from inside the 22 in the 43rd minute. Great scamper down his flank at 50 mins, leading to a penalty and then a cool finish to seal the deal.
13. Rieko Ioane – 6.5
Quiet night for Rieko, it’s good to see a 13 backing himself on the outside but there is a risk of being isolated. Couldn’t link with Clarke this week on the left.
12. TJ Faiane – 6.5
As usual TJ played the good link man, solid as a rock against a very good centre pairing
11. Caleb Clarke – 7
Pretty anonymous with the ball not coming his way until the last quarter as his team gained ascendency and more space. Good break at 64 mins that led to Barrett dropped goal, then pierced the defence with a strong carry that led to the 72nd minute Telea try.
10. Otere Black – 5
Black’s place kicking boots were sound, but his game seemed to go off the boil in the 2nd half. In the 45th min he poked an aimless kick that the Chiefs almost capitalised on. Then a knock on off a set piece in 58th minute led to him being substituted moments later.
9. Sam Nock – 8
The Northlander has sealed the 9 starting position with another strong outing, it’s not often Brad Weber gets outplayed. Best pass off the left hand in the country, good clearances at speed on a wet night. Off at 65 minutes.
8. Hoskins Sotutu – 8.5
Great illustration of the Blues improvement. Powerful, skilful and determined. Showed the power for the first try of the night. His heart would have been in his mouth with the gutsy pass off the left hand that skipped Tupaea’s intercept attempt for Telea to score and then led the defensive effort in the last moments as the Chiefs tried to hammer their way back.
7. Dalton Papalii – 7
Big assignment marking Lachlan Boshier, and was the unlucky yellow card recipient as ref lost his patience just before halftime. Led the tackle count as he came off the naughty chair to make a difference on D.
6. Akira Ioane – 7.5
Often criticised for his workrate, he reacted well being in the spotlight with a start at blindside. Was consistent and visible with his defence and was always a threat out wide.
5. Josh Goodhue – 7
Was one of the unsung heroes in the tight. Force at the breakdown and an annoyance for the Chiefs at line out time.
4. Patrick Tuipulotu – 8
Big, bad behemoth in the middle of the park. Scary strength and really took the game by the scruff of neck in the last quarter to push the momentum. For the lead up to the Telea try, he soared for a line out take, had two crucial runs to straighten the attack.
3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 6.5
Purposeful on defence and at the breakdown. Blotted his copybook after taking a nap at the back of a ruck in the 55th minute that got the Chiefs back to 12-13. Luckily it wasn’t a turning point.
2. James Parsons – 7
The wily veteran played the perfect wet night game. Error free, solid line out throws and some well timed snaffles at the breakdown.
1. Alex Hodgman – 7
Big but mobile man who nullified Laulala’s scrum prowess and had a good presence at the breakdown.
16. Kurt Eklund, on 74 – Wobbly line out throw first up but redeemed himself with a scrum tighthead.
17. Marcel Renata, on 74
18. Sione Mafileo, on at 61
19. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, on at 61
20. Tony Lamborn
21. Finlay Christie, on at 65 – Busy with some good work on both sides of the ball
22. Harry Plummer, on at 69
23. Matt Duffie on at 61
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