Super rugby Trans Tasman

Blues beat Highlanders in Auckland

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The Blues have won each of their last three Super Rugby home matches against the Highlanders, as many as they won in their seven such fixtures prior (L4).

This will be the second meeting between the Blues and Highlanders in a Super Rugby finals fixture; the Blues defeated the Landers (37-31) in the 1998 semi-final.

  • The Blues have played the Highlanders 37 times in Super Rugby since 1996, the Blues have won 20 matches and lost 17 times.
  • The Highlanders will be aiming for back-to-back wins over the Blues in Super Rugby for the first time since a four-match span from March 2017 to April 2018, after defeating them 35-29 in their most recent meeting (Round 8, Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021).
  • This will be the Blues’ fifth Super Rugby Final; the Auckland side has won three of their previous four (L1), with that one defeat coming in 1998 (20-13 v Crusaders).
  • This will be the Highlanders’ third Super Rugby Final; the Dunedin side has one victory (21-14 v Hurricanes, 2015) and one defeat (24-19 v Crusaders, 1999) from their two previous matches at this stage.
  • Leon MacDonald’s charges have conceded 15.8 points per game in the 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season, the fewest of any team; the Otago men (19.2) have conceded the third-fewest in the campaign (Hurricanes –18.6).
  • The Highlanders (89%) and the Blues (87%) have the best and second-best tackle success rates of any team in the 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season.
  • Bryce Heem has made 11 clean breaks in the 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season, the joint-most by any player (also Filipo Daugunu – Queensland Reds and Ngani Laumape – Hurricanes); Heem has also recorded the best average gain per carry of any of the 162 players to run with the ball on 15+ occasions in the competition this year (11.3m, 396m from 35 carries).
  • Mitch Hunt has made 48 kicks in play in the 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season, the joint-most of any player in the competition (level with Jordie Barrett); five of those kicks resulted in an error from the opposition –over twice as many as any other player.
  • Blues’ duo Patrick Tuipulotu and Gerard Cowley-Tuioti have made the joint-most lineout steals (4 each) of all players in the 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman season.

Match detail

We are waiting for the kick-off.

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


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1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway for this much anticipated 2021 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final clash in Auckland, New Zealand.

2.00: Dalton Papalii rips the ball out of a defender, but he loses possession to give the Landers a scrum. Josh Ioane tries a grubber, but the kick does not work as the ball bounces out.

4.00: Finlay Christie’s clearance kick is out on the full, that is a bad mistake. Highlanders have the lineout near the Blues’ 22.

5.00: Alex Hodgman concedes a penalty at the ruck; Mitch Hunt calls for the tee.

6.00: PENALTY! Hunt opens the scoring from in front. 0-3

8.00: A big hit by Ash Dixon on Otere Black sees the first five concede possession on the halfway line. The Landers counter-attack, but Jona Nareki’s kick is out on the full.

11.00: The Blues are forcing it a little, while the Highlanders look composed, playing with tempo and purpose. The Blues have had the better of the ball, but are not doing anything meaningful with it.

13.00: A big scrum by the Blues’ pack wins the hosts a penalty. Black kicks to the corner, but the ball is out about 10 metres from the goal line.

14.00: The lineout drive is stopped, but the home team wins a penalty for the tackler not rolling. Black does not go to the corner; instead, Patrick Tuipulotu opts for a scrum.

17.00: TRY! Mark Telea collects Black’s crossfield kick, steps inside a weak tackle by Josh Ioane, and dives in for the game’s first try. The attack came off the back of another dominant scrum, the Blues had an advantage so Black went to the air knowing he had a free hit. 5-3

18.00: CONVERSION! Black adds the extras. 7-3

21.00: It’s all Blues at the minute, they are cutting the Highlanders open from midfield and the wide areas.

24.00: YELLOW CARD! Ash Dixon is sent to the bin for a high shot on Otere Black. 7-3

25.00: PENALTY! Harry Plummer, taking over kicking duties from Black, makes no mistake from in front. 10-3

28.00: The Blues are cutting the Highlanders open with their big ball-carriers. MacDonald’s men are finding space in the wide areas, breaking tackles, and putting the visitors under pressure inside their half.

29.00: Zarn Sullivan clears the danger for the Blues, but the Landers have an attacking lineout between the Blues’ 22 and 10m.

31.00: Bryce Heem knocks Mitch Hunt out the way as he chased a high kick, but is knocked over by Jona Nareki. The TMO and ref come to a good decision by not showing Heem a card. Superb.

34.00: The Highlanders win a penalty off the back of a powerful driving maul, Hunt will take a shot.

35.00: PENALTY! Hunt runs down the clock before doubling his side’s score. 10-6

36.00: Black is back on after passing his HIA and Dixon is also back from the sin-bin.

39.00: The Blues have one last chance to get some points as they enter the Landers’ half with some power running.

40.00: The ref misses Rieko Ioane’s forward pass, which ends with a Blues’ penalty in front of the posts.

41.00: PENALTY! Black knocks over the penalty. 13-6

The halftime score was Blues 13 Highlanders 6

41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway at Eden Park.

43.00: Akira Ioane bashes his way through several defenders, but is held up over the line for a goal-line drop-out.

45.00: Nareki intercepts Christie’s pass, but the Blues had a penalty advantage after a deliberate knock down at the previous ruck.

46.00: MISS! Black pulls his penalty wide of the posts, that is not good. 13-6

49.00: Dalton Papalii scampers away for the try, but the forward is called back for a forward pass by Bryce Heem.

53.00: It’s all Blues again, they have a 5m scrum under the posts.

54.00: The Highlanders get themselves out of trouble with a superb wheeling scrum.

56.00: Superb work at the ruck sees Kazuki Himeno win a relieving penalty for the Otago men.

58.00: The Landers win a penalty after they won a free-kick at the previous lineout.

60.00: PENALTY! Hunt reduces the gap to four. 13-9

63.00: The Highlanders have turned up the intensity, their driving maul puts the visitors inside the 22.

64.00: Several phases later, Akira Ioane concedes a penalty near the Blues’ try line.

65.00: PENALTY! Hunt adds another three. 13-12

66.00: Liam Coltman wins the penalty at the restart, Josh Ioane will take a long-distance shit at goal.

67.00: PENALTY! Josh Ioane’s long kick drops over the crossbar, the Landers lead in Auckland. 13-15

70.00: PENALTY! Plummer puts his side back in front. 16-15

77.00: TRY! The Blues lose a lineout inside the Highlanders’ 22, but the hosts win the turnover. Hoskins Sotutu burst through several defenders, Ruru played Black Gibson, who crashed over to win the game. 21-15

79.00: CONVERSION! Plummer slots the wide conversion! 23-15

81.00: Hunt misses a drop-kick to stop the clock, but the Landers get another penalty, which they kick to the corner. However, time runs out for the Dunedin men, and the Blues win the final.

FULL TIME

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The final score is Blues 23 (13) Highlanders 15 (6)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – Telea, Gibson
Pen – Plummer (2), Black
Con – Black, Plummer
Drop –
Cards –

Highlanders
Tries –
Pen – Hunt (4), J. Ioane
Con –
Drop –
Cards – Dixon (Yellow, 24′)

Match Officials
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2: Paul Williams
TMO: Brendon Pickerill

Teams

Blues

15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman

Replacements:
16 Ray Niuia, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Joshua Goodhue, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 AJ Lam

Highlanders

15 Josh Ioane, 14 Patelesio Tomkinson, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Scott Gregory, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 (co-captain) Aaron Smith, 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Hugh Renton, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon (co-captain), 1 Ethan de Groot

Replacements:
16 Liam Coltman, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 James Lentjes, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Sam Gilbert, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas

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