Watch: Beauden Barrett's offensive masterclass just too much for Reds
While it won’t show up in many highlights packages, a trick play from first five Beauden Barrett and fullback Stephen Perofeta to kick off the second half between the Blues and Reds was perhaps the moment of the match.
With the forwards lined up to the right, Perfoeta set up to take the drop kick but when the whistle sounded, he slipped the ball behind him to Barrett who caught the Reds team by surprise by chipping the ball out to the left and into the arms of the waiting Caleb Clarke, perfectly placed on the 10-metre line.
“We saw a little opportunity there and we took it,” Barrett said with a wry smile after the match while crediting backs coach Dan Halangahu with the idea.
It was just one moment of brilliance from the experienced All Blacks pivot who was in sublime form at Eden Park on Saturday night, contributing three try assists and one 5-pointer of his own to blow the Reds away.
It was a short ball from Barrett when the Blues were just outside the Reds 22 in the 14th minute that hlepd kick off the scoring. With replacement midfielder Bryce Heem looming on his shoulder, Barrett popped the ball to the converted winger in space and Heem was able to charge ahead almost untouched and give the Blues’ the early lead.
Moments after the trick play to start the second half, the Blues again found themselves deep inside the Reds 22 with momentum well in their favour. After churning through a handful of phases close to the ruck, the ball was delivered to Barrett who stepped inside Reds fullback Jock Campbell and delivered a one-handed NFL-style pass to Clarke out on the wing who dived over the line for the score.
Just two minutes later and the Blues were in again – with Barrett both creating and scoring what might have been the try of the match.
From a lineout maul inside their half, Christie fed the ball to Barrett who, from a standing start, scorched Reds lock Angus Blyth on the outside and headed downfield before passing back inside to his halfback teammate.
Eventually, Bryce Heem set up a ruck in the midfield just outside the Reds 22 and Perofeta received the ball at first receiver, grubbering the ball through the defence towards the goal line. Barrett had all the pace in the world and darted past the defenders, waited for the bounce and then pounced for the Blues’ fifth try of the match.
For the next try, in the 57th minute, Barrett and Perofeta swapped roles with Barrett delivering a quick pass from a 5-metre attacking maul to Perofeta in open space with the fullback diving over the line untouched.
With the Blues ahead 39-14, the game was well and truly out of reach for the Reds and the Blues finished off the victory with some typical maul tries to reserve hooker Soane Vikena.
Barrett has slowly worked his way into form this season and while All Blacks rival Richie Mo’unga has been in good touch for the Crusaders, the more experienced Barrett has likely reinforced his position as the best first five-eighth in New Zealand.
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