This article originally appeared on Staff and has been reproduced with permission
Highland hooker Andrew Macalio did just that with his first-half frenzy, and the Super Rugby Pacific Minor Premiers were good enough to do the rest at Eden Park on Saturday night, you wouldn’t give that leg up to a team like the Blues. .
The Blues ran in five unanswered attempts, finally, to shake off a scheduled Highlanders challenge and win 35-6 in the third quarter final, back home next Saturday at Fortes Eden Park. They will meet the winner of the Brumbies-Hurricanes clash in Canberra.
With big game players Bouden Barrett (two attempts at command performance) and Stephen Perofeta (104 first-half running meters) leading the way, the Blues took a step forward after half an hour of shaky start to finally take control of the match. A record 14th victory in 2022 in front of a crowd of 23,500.
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Tuivasa-Sheck cross for the first super attempt
Roger Tuivasa-Shek has continued his steady rise with another strong display in his new code, and his first attempt at this outstanding campaign, and a convenient extended bench off for AJ Lam’s home team who have never missed a beat since late. Captain Dalton Papali’s appendicitis caused the reshuffle.
Akira Ion was great in a home pack that eventually topped and Hoskins Sotutu and Tom Robinson also worked hard.
Ethan de Groot was great for the Highlanders, both in the set piece and around the park, and halfback Folau Fakatava showed his skills in a strong effort for the spectators who could not regain their morale after losing to Macalio.
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The Blues weren’t at their best of free-flowing as they painfully outscored the 14-6 halftime lead in the last 10 minutes of the spell courtesy of a crucial two-attempt blast.
The Highlanders gave themselves an excellent account in the first half hour of the opening, their hosting possession platforms they refused to feast on, and Marty Banks led 6-0 through a pair of penalties. A procession of blues handling errors also helped their cause.
But when Blues forward Tom Robinson was given a red card for a 22-minute shoulder charge on the head, in the same game where Akira Ion surprisingly rejected an attempt to score a goal in the replay, but which TMO considered “not scheduled”, the match ended. The first takes an important turn.
The Ioane brothers teamed up to try
The Blues finally punishes the Underworld Highlanders, Akira Ion and Bouden Barrett pass for a run-in break, Akira passes through a nice short ball from her brother Raiko and Barrett turns the gas on 30 meters outside and releases Ethan. De Groot, among others, flapping in the air.
The Blues dominated the second spell, capturing the second attempt of a flashy backline move from the Barrett lineout, Lam was rewarded for a strong barrage of Barrett high kicks when Marty Banks dropped the ball and Twivasa-shake wrapped things up with a beautiful move. To his right, Rico Ion and Hoskins Sotutu did the setup work.
Macaulay’s brain had to explode when his shoulder shattered into part of Robinson’s head, and the audience’s chances fell to the toilet. At that point, the Landers won arm-wrestling, but the numerical advantage helped change the pace for the minor premiers.
Match rating: 7/10
Five quality attempts from the Blues have raised a pretty complex issue and provided some entertainment for the huge crowd of 23,500 people. Hard to manage clearly, it has many flaws for being a classic.
The Blues will return to host the semifinals against the winners of the Hurricanes at Eden Park. Based on the evidence, it would be difficult to pig their pigs, although the landers gave a hint of how to frustrate them for the first half hour.
A huge battle between the two-tri-hero Barrett and the inspirational Peropheta who must enter the national discourse in this form. We will give it to Barrett who offered a timely reminder that he was playing rugby all his life.
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