Blues beat Highlanders in Auckland




The Blues have won six of their last seven Super Rugby games against the Highlanders (L1) including their last three; the last time they won more in succession against the Landers was a six-game stretch from 2007 to 2011.

This will be the third time that the Blues and Highlanders have clashed in the finals of a Super Rugby campaign. The Blues have won both of their previous two encounters (1998 semi-final, 2021 Trans-Tasman final).

  • The Blues have won their last 13 straight Super Rugby games, a club record; in fact, only three times in Super Rugby history has any team enjoyed a longer winning streak with the Crusaders holding all three of those records.
  • The Auckland side has won nine of their 10 Super Rugby finals games when playing at home (L1) while the Highlanders have lost their last five consecutive finals games at any venue.
  • The only defeat in finals rugby for the Blues at Eden Park came in 1998 against the Crusaders.
  • The Highlanders have lost their last nine consecutive Super Rugby games against fellow New Zealand teams, their joint-longest losing streak in Kiwi derbies.

Players to watch

  • Beauden Barrett has been directly involved in five tries in his last two Super Rugby Pacific games (2 tries, 3 try assists); he’ll be looking to score a try in three consecutive appearances for the first time since April 2018.
  • Folau Fakatava has completed 3.4 offloads per 80 minutes, the most of any player in the competition and more than twice as many as any Blues player.
  • Fakatava, in for Aaron Smith who is a late withdrawal with a groin injury, has scored five tries with four assists in 14 matches.
  • Dalton Papalii was also a late withdrawal because of appendicitis. The Blues skipper is recovering from surgery and is doing well.

Match detail

We are waiting for the kick-off.

In the meantime, why not have a look at the match preview.

1.00: PEEEP! We are underway at Eden Park for this New Zealand north v south Super Rugby derby.

2.00: Marty Banks nails an impressive 50/22 to set up his team on the Blues’ 22.

5.00: PENALTY! Banks opens the scoring. 0-3

6.00: Bryn Evans drops the restart into touch, but Connor Garden-Bachop intercepts before losing the ball as he tried to clear.

9.00: A mistake by the home team gives the visitors a scrum on their 22, which leads to a penalty for illegal wheeling.

11.00: Both teams are making a lot of handling errors (Blues 4 – Highlanders 2). The report from the sideline is of a slippery surface because of dew.

13.00: MISS! The Highlanders hammer away at the blue wall, but some big hits keep out Brown’s men. After 14 phases of going nowhere, Banks pulls a drop goal wide of the posts. 0-3

16.00: The Highlanders are doing well to keep the Blues contained. Brown’s side has had the better of the possession and territory but needs to score points.

19.00: A few stoppages as Kurt Eklund and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck get treatment.

21.00: Josh Dickson intercepts a loose pass before offloading to Scott Gregory, who powers forward. The Landers get to halfway before the Blues’ counter-ruck sets Perofeta away. The visitors slow down the ball, but the home team’s offloading keeps the attack going.

22.00: NO TRY! Akira Ioane crashes through to score after an 11-phase attack, but he is held up. The officials, however, go back for foul play and offside. That looked a try for Ioane, how is that “inconclusive”? 0-3

22.00: RED CARD! Andrew Makalio is sent off for a shoulder hit to the head of Tom Robinson, which is dangerous and reckless. Barrett kicks to the corner. 0-3

24.00: Superb work by Josh Dickson, who stole the ball from the maul to kickstart a counter-attack from deep. Thomas Umaga-Jensen is down with a shoulder injury. Landers clear to halfway.

25.00: Leon MacDonald’s men are slipping and sliding, and they cannot hang on to the ball. Craig McGrath, the Blues assistant coach, is not impressed in his TV sideline interview.

26.00: Highlanders knock on now, that’s six handling errors apiece to go with eight turnovers each. The game, however, is pretty good to watch though.

29.00: Banks calls for the tee after his team wins a penalty in front.

30.00: PENALTY! Marty Banks doubles his side’s lead. 0-6

32.00: TRY! AJ Lam and Hoskins Sotutu kick-started the attack before some quick ball at the ruck set up the score. Akira Ioane took Rieko’s pass, and darts for the try line to score his 22nd Super Rugby try. 5-6

33.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good. 7-6

34.00: A double-movement from James Tucker sees his score chalked off. Highlanders are lucky to escape without conceding. The Blues are cutting the Otago men apart.

35.00: TRY! Banks commits the cardinal sin of not finding touch. Perofeta counters before Beauden Barrett slices through some weak tackling, fending off Ethan de Groot before racing away to score under the posts. 12-6

36.00: CONVERSION! Perofeta converts again. 14-6

38.00: The Highlanders get lucky after Ioane’s mini-break ends in a loose pass that the visitors gather. Nothing comes of the counter; instead, it’s a Blues scrum.

39.00: Scrum penalty to the Blues near their 10m. This could be trouble, it could be the game if the hosts score again.

41.00: Liam Coombes-Fabling, on for the injured Thomas Umaga-Jensen, wins a penalty. Banks kicks to touch after the hooter.

The halftime score was Blues 14 Highlanders 6

41.00: PEEEP! We are bac underway in Auckland.

43.00: Highlanders win another scrum penalty to clear the danger.

46.00: The Highlanders have started well since the break, but they need to turn pressure into points.

48.00: TRY! Hoskins Sotutu’s flat pass put Roger Tuivasa-Sheck through a gap. The centre raced forward before popping to Rieko Ioane. Ioane sent Barrett away under the sticks for his 40th Super Rugby try. No player has scored more points versus the Highlanders than Barrett, he has 186 points, 14 more than Dan Carter. 19-6

49.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good. 21-6

51.00: The Blues have an attacking lineout on the opposition’s 22.

55.00: It’s all Blues, who look like scoring all the time.

58.00: TRY! Banks drops Beauden Barrett’s bomb and Lam gathered to score. Banks is having a nightmare. 26-6

60.00: CONVERSION! Perofeta is hot right now. 28-6

63.00: Highlanders go close, but a foot in touch chalks off a score; they do however, kick a penalty to the corner.

66.00: Brown must be dying for the final whistle. His team has given up.

68.00: TRY! Tuivasa-Sheck takes Sotutu’s pass and cuts inside the defenders to score his maiden Super Rugby try. Lam beat Banks – again – to win a high ball to start the attack. 33-6

70.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good. 35-6

74.00: Another good chance at scoring goes begging as the ball is passed into touch by the Dunedin men.

76.00: A big scrum wins the Blues a penalty to clear.

78.00: 50/22 to the Blues.

81.00: Nothing comes from the final attack, but the Blues are into the semis.


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The final score is Blues 35 (14) Highlanders 6 (6)


Tries – A. Ioane, B. Barrett (2), Lam, Tuivasa-Sheck
Pen –
Con – Perofeta (5)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries –
Pen – Banks (2)
Con –
Drop –
Cards – Makalio (Red, 22′)

Match Officials
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: Stu Curran
TMO: James Leckie


Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Tom Robinson, 4 James Tucker, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Joshua Goodhue, 21 Sam Nock, 22 AJ Lam, 23 Zarn Sullivan.

Highlanders: 15 Connor Garden-Bachop, 14 Fetuli Paea, 13 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Mosese Dawai, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Billy Harmon (captain), 6 Hugh Renton, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Ethan de Groot.

16 Leni Apisai, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Saula Mau, 19 Max Hicks, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Liam Coombes-Fabling, 23 Denny Solomona.

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