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Blues beat Moana Pasifika in Auckland

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This will be the second Super Rugby match between the Blues and Moana Pasifika; the Blues triumphed in their inaugural meeting (32-19, 29 March 2022).

The Blues have won 11 of their last 12 Super Rugby matches (L1), including their last four on the bounce; they have scored exactly 32 points in each of the last three games in that span.

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Match detail

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1.00: PEEEP! We are underway at Eden Park, Auckland after both teams performed their Hakas.

3.00: A 19-phase attack by Moana Pasifika ends with an offside penalty in front of the posts.

4.00: PENALTY! Christian Leali’ifano opens the scoring. 0-3

6.00: James Tucker is pinged at the breakdown, Moana clear the danger to the Blues’ 10m.

7.00: Sam Darry steals the opposition’s throw, but Dalton Papalii is isolated leading to another kickable penalty for the visitors.

8.00: PENALTY! Leali’ifano doubles the lead. 0-6

11.00: The Blues have given away four early penalties to Moana’s one, mostly at the breakdown, which has given the islanders early momentum while killing the home team’s chances.

12.00: PENALTY! Stephen Perofeta halves the deficit. 3-6

15.00: A big scrum by the Blues sees Moana flanker Sione Tuipulotu knock-on to give the hosts a scrum, which is reset.

17.00: TRY! Corey Evans finishes off a sublime attack from the scrum that goes six phases before Chrisie put away the starting debutant for a maiden Super Rugby try. The Blues’ quick recycling at the breakdown caught the opposition flat-footed as they ran out of defenders. 8-6

18.00: PENALTY! Perofeta adds the extras. 10-6

20.00: Leon MacDonald’s side has increased the pace and tempo. Moana Pasifika is struggling to make their first-time tackles as the

21.00: TRY! Caleb Clarke finishes off another sustained counter-attack by the hosts after Bryce Heem’s intercept turned over possession. Clarke broke Veikoso Poloniati’s tackle, and darted over after taking Perofeta’s inside pass to open the space. 15-6

22.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good. 17-6

25.00: Another penalty in the scrum against the visitors after Henry Time-Stowers handles in the shaky set-piece.

28.00: Moana Pasifika are struggling in the scrums, losing two of their own, and conceding a penalty. Aaron Mauger’s men cannot get their hands on the ball since Leali’ifano’s second penalty.

30.00: TRY! Tomasi Alosio takes Veikoso Poloniati’s pop-pass to score next to the posts after botched lineout by Moana Pasifika took the Blues forwards by surprise. 17-11

32.00: CONVERSION! Leali’ifano converts. 17-13

33.00: Solomone Funaki concedes a penalty after the restart, Perofeta kicks to the corner.

34.00: TRY! Kurt Eklund crashes over for his 10th Super Rugby try after a patient driving maul by the Blues’ forwards. 22-13

35.00: MISS! Perofeta hits the post. 22-13

36.00: Heem and Perofeta conspire to give away a penalty from the restart.

37.00: PENALTY! Leali’ifano knocks over the goal. 22-16

39.00: Moana Pasifika has managed to stay in the game by taking penalties when they get them, but the Blues look dangerous with ball-in-hand, and the islanders are losing the battle at the breakdown, their set-pieces are creaking, too.

40.00: TRY! Bryce Heem takes Finlay Christie’s switch-pass, jumps over a sliding defender, slipped Sione Tuipulotu’s tackle before scoring next to the sticks. 27-16

41.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good. 29-16

The halftime score was Blues 29 Moana Pasifika 16

41.00: PEEEP! We are back underway in New Zealand.

43.00: Eklund intercepts a loose pass and starts a counter-attack that leads to a Blues’ penalty, which is kicked to the corner.

45.00: The Blues, playing under two advantages, go through the phases after Moana defended the drivingf maul; however, nothing comes from the sustained attack on the line. Another penalty is booted to the flag.

46.00: TRY! Eklund peels left off the back of the rolling maul and crashes over for his second score of the night, his second brace of the season (versus Hurricanes), and 11th Super Rugby try. 34-16

47.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good. 36-16

49.00: A promising driving maul from Moana ends with a knock-on near the try line.

52.00: RED CARD! Caleb Clarke is sent off for taking out Tomasi Alosio, who chased his chip-kick, but was taken out in the air with a knee to the head by the winger. 36-16

54.00: Mauger’s men cannot get their driving maul going; instead, they break away but are pinged for a double movemant as they searched for five.

56.00: Two more set-pieces go to waste as the islanders keep up the pressure. They do have an attacking scrum on the Blues’ line – it’s now or never.

58.00: The attacking scrum is reset twice.

59.00: Nigel Ah Wong cannot latch onto Ereatara Enari’s grubber; chance gone, a 22 drop-out to the Blues.

62.00: NO TRY! Ezekiel Lindenmuth crashes over, but his try is chalked off for player obstruction. 36-16

66.00: HAT-TRICK! Eklund makes history, becoming the only hooker in Blues history to claim a treble after another perfect rolling maul. 41-16

67.00: MISS! The kick is wide. 41-16

71.00: Timoci Tavatavanawai drops the ball in contact near the line. Superb work by prop Karl Tu’inukuafe, who knocked the ball out of the winger’s hands.

74.00: Moana have been wasteful tonight, they need to work on their tight play and set-pieces.

76.00: More pressure by the Kiwis leads to a scrum penalty next to the poles.

80.00: TRY! Sam Nock takes the quick-tap penalty from the scrum and sends the ball wide to Mark Telea. Telea ddrew the defence before passing to Heem, who could of scored but unselfishly, put AJ Lam away in the corner. 46-16

81.00: MISS! The kick is no good, Blues do the double and go fourth on the log. Moana sit in 11th.

FULL TIME

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The final score is Blues 46 (29) Moana Pasifika 16 (16)

Scorers

Blues
Tries – Evans, Clarke, Eklund (3), Heem, Lam
Pen – Perofeta
Con – Perofeta (4)
Drop –
Cards – Clarke (Red, 52′)

Moana Pasifika
Tries – Alosio
Pen – Leali’ifano (3)
Con – Leali’ifano
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: James Doleman
Assistant Ref 1: Jono Bredin
Assistant Ref 2: Angus Mabey
TMO: Chris Hart

Teams

Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 AJ Lam, 13 Bryce Heem, 12 Corey Evans, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Anton Segner, 7 Dalton Papalii (captain), 6 Cameron Suafoa, 5 Sam Darry, 4 Christian Leali’ifano, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Alex Hodgman.

Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Tanielu Tele’a, 23 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.

Moana Pasifika: 15 William Havili, 14 Tomasi Alosio, 13 Nigel Ah Wong, 24 Solomone Kata, 11 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Ereatara Enari, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Solomone Funaki, 6 Sione Tuipulotu, 5 Alex McRobbie, 4 Veikoso Poloniati, 3 Sekope Kepu (captain), 2 Samiuela Moli, 1 Ezekiel Lindenmuth.

Replacements:
 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Abraham Pole, 18 Chris Apoua, 19 Mahonri Ngakuru, 20 Alamanda Motuga, 21 Dwayne Polataivao, 22 Lincoln McClutchie, 23 Fine Inisi

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