Super Rugby

Blues beat Sunwolves in Tokyo




The Sunwolves have only played the Blues once in Super Rugby and that match was won 48-21 by the Sunwolves – with a bonus point.

The home team are placed last this season and with a points differential of -129, they are almost double the next worst in this statistic.

  • The Sunwolves triumphed 48-21 when these teams met in Round 17 last season, their only previous encounter.
  • That victory was one of the Sunwolves’ three previous home games against New Zealand opposition, though they have lost the other two by margins of greater than 50 points.
  • The Blues have lost their last three games in a row, the last time they lost more in succession was a nine-game drought in the 2014 and 2015 campaigns.
  • The Japanese club has conceded just seven penalties per game this season, fewer than any other team in the competition.
  • Akira Ioane has scored six tries in as many games this campaign.

Match detail

We are waiting for the kick-off.

1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo.

2.00: The game has started at a frantic pace, the Sunwolves running from everywhere.

3.00: YELLOW CARD! Patrick Tuipulotu, in his 50th Super Rugby game for the Blues, is off for a no arms tackle on Lomano Lemeki.

4.00: PENALTY! Yu Tamura puts the Sunwolves on the board. 3-0

6.00: The home team are on the charge. They win the turnover at the ruck and two phases later, Michael Little breaks into the Blues territory.

7.00: Blues, somehow, win the ball and clear. Phew!

8.00: Oh boy! Semisi Masirewa knocks on an intercept from a careless offload by Michael Collins; he would have been away under the sticks.

10.00: Tamura is leaving the field with a slight knock. On comes Hayden Parker with the Sunwolves in possession of the scrum.

11.00: The set piece has been an Achilles’ heel this year, and they have a short-arm penalty go against them.

12.00: Yoshitaka Tokunaga is tackled high after another wide attack. Parker kicks to touch, inside the Blues’ 22.

13.00: Tuipulotu is back on after serving 10 minutes in the sin-bin. Lemeki takes the ball at first receiver but loses it forward. However, the Sunwolves get another penalty after the Kiwis collapse the maul.

14.00: Wonderful defence by the New Zealanders, who hold up the driving maul, close to their line.

16.00: Great work at the breakdown by Kara Pryor, who wins the turnover.

17.00: The home side steals the lineout and is on the attack inside the Kiwis’ half.

20.00: Parker puts a good kick into the corner after a good Sunwolves scrum and blindside break, started the attack.

21.00: TRY! Timothy Lafaele takes Parker’s wonderful offload and scores in the corner. It was set-up by Grant Hattingh and Craig Miller’s pick and goes through the rucks. 8-0

23.00: CONVERSION! Parker slots the sideline kick and is then subbed off because Yamura passed his HIA. 10-0

25.00: The Sunwolves have been playing with pace and purpose, dominating the gain-line and the breakdown. Their up-tempo rugby is wreaking havoc on the Blues defence.

27.00: The Blues survive, winning the turnover after defending for their lives.

28.00: TRY! Jordan Hyland beats two defenders and crosses for a score against the run of play. The Blues went several phases for their best series of plays in the game before Stephen Perofeta’s long, wide pass set-up the try. 10-5

29.00: MISS! The conversion attempt hits the post but does not go over. 10-5

31.00: Perofeta’s long clearance kick has the Sunwolves pinned inside their 22. The Blues have turned this game around, winning a scrum after another knock-on.

34.00: The Blues are going through the phases and are camped inside their host’s 22.

35.00: Decent defence by the Japanese, but they are pinged after another offside infringement. The Blues went 15 phases with mostly pick and drives before kicking to the corner for the lineout.

36.00: Perofeta links with Rieko Ioane in a switch-move but is smoked by Semisi Masirewa, who took man and ball. The ball is shifted wide and kicked deep down the field to relieve the pressure.

38.00: A short-lineout move by the Auckland side is botched because of a forward pass. Scrum to the home team near their 10m.

39.00: So close! Lemeki snatches a high pass and races forward, putting in a chip-kick. He chases hard but the ball bounces into touch inside the Blues’ 22.

40.00: Lafaele runs into his own man just as the hooter sounds for the break.

The half-time score was Sunwolves 10 Blues 5

41.00: PEEEEP! We are back for what should be a pulsating second-half.

42.00: The crowd was entertained with a harmonic rendition of the World in Union, sung in Japanese because the build-up to next year’s Rugby World Cup is eagerly anticipated.

43.00: Ioane breaks from his 22, shifts the ball to Hyland, who races into the Sunwolves’ 22. However, Perofeta knocks on, killing the attack, although, they are awarded a penalty for offsides and kick to the corner.

44.00: Wow! After several phases of battering the Sunwolves’ goal-line, Pieter Labuschagne and Kazuki Himeno combine at the breakdown to win the turnover and penalty.

47.00: Hattingh rips the ball from Matt Duffie’s hands and the Sunwolves attack. Both teams turn the ball over before the home side get awarded a penalty – they opt for a scrum.

49.00: The Blues survive, winning a scrum-penalty and clear their lines.

50.00: TRY! Akira Ioane shrugs off Masirewa and Lafaele, and races away for the game-levelling try. 10-all

51.00: CONVERSION! Perofeta puts the Blues in the lead. 10-12

54.00: The crowd give Willie Britz a huge cheer as he comes onto the field.

55.00: SENSATIONAL TRY! Dalton Papali’i takes Pryor’s long pass and beats three tackles, cutting inside Britz and speeding away from Hattingh to score. 10-17

56.00: CONVERSION! Perofeta adds the extras. 10-19

61.00: Lafaele attempts a grubber, but the ball is dropped by a Blues defender. That is very lucky. The Sunwolves have been profligate inside the Blues’ 22 and not taken their chances or points. It could prove costly.

62.00: William Tupou knocks on with men on his outside; another killer blow inflicted by themselves, gives possession back to the visitors.

63.00: Massive scrum by the Sunwolves and they regain possession after a knock-on. Scrum is reset.

64.00: Oh dear! What is this referee doing? He continues to blow one way or the other at the scrum; this time the Blues survive.

65.00: Labuschagne wins the – noisy – lineout, but the ref blows against the Sunwolves for closing the gap. Blues opt for a scrum.

67.00: Little is taken out without the ball by Pauliasi Manu. The referee has gone to the TMO to check for foul play. The Blues had a penalty, but it could be overturned.

68.00: Manu survives a yellow card despite the ref acknowledging that the loosehead prop ‘checked’ the runner: very odd call.

69.00: Lemeki is held up- again – by Tuipulotu, and the Blues get the scrum feed.

70.00: Jonathan Ruru puts the ball directly out, on the full. Lineout to the Sunwolves near the Blues’ 22.

71.00: The mistakes are creeping in as the Sunwolves start to tire in Tokyo.

74.00: NO TRY! Akira Ioane has barged through the goal-line defenders and dotted down on the whitewash. There is no clear grounding, so the Blues get a five-metre scrum.

76.00: TRY! Hyland has a double. The winger took Rieko Ioane’s skip-pass and cruised into the corner; that’s the ball-game. 10-24

77.00: MISS! Perofeta’s kick is wide. 10-24

79.00: One last attack for the Sunwolves is lost.

80.00: The hooter sounds and that’s the match.


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

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The final score: Sunwolves 10 (10) Blues 24 (5)


Tries – Lafaele
Pen – Tamura,
Con – Parker
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Hyland (2), A. Ioane, Papali’i
Pen –
Con – Perofeta (2)
Drop –
Cards – Tuipulotu (Yellow, 3′)

Match Officials
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 1: Shuhei Kubo
Assistant Ref 2: Tasuku Kawahara
TMO: Minoru Fuji



15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Michael Little, 11 Lomano Lemeki, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yutaka Nagare (captain), 8 Kazuki Himeno, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 James Moore, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Craig Millar.

Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Shintato Ishihara, 18 Nikoloz Khataishvili, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Willem Britz, 21 Fumaiki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 William Tupou.


15 Michael Collins, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Matt Duffie, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.

Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Ben Neenee, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane.

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