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Blues Player Ratings vs Chiefs (Super Rugby Pacific Round 6, 2023)

In one of the most important games of the 2023 season, weather certainly had its part to play in the Blues' effort against the Chiefs. The attempt to end their opponents' win streak was a close encounter with a half-time score of 10-17. After being behind by 3, the Blues held a 75% possession rate but the handling of the ball allowed the Chiefs' defence to see them out. With a final score of 13-20, Leon MacDonald will be highly disappointed with his men.

In what was a certain step backwards for the Blues, we'll read through each player from jersey number 1 through to 23, to examine other elements of the team's downfall.


Finlay Christie, the Blues' first-choice halfback, will be looking to forget a nightmare performance at FMG Stadium. Photo: Max Sharp.

Loosehead Prop - James Lay (6/10)

If you don't notice a prop's performance during a game of rugby, chances are they did the basics well. Lay did exactly that, completing all 5 of his tackles, though the slow pace of the game left him to just 2 metres off 1 carry. Scrum looked strong.

Hooker - Ricky Riccitelli (8/10)

Although Kurt Eklund is far more effective around the field, Riccitelli has been influential in the better performance of the team's lineout. Scored a close-range try in the 8th minute and powered through 16 metres off 8 carries, as well as 9/10 tackles (the most of his team).

Tighthead Prop - Nepo Laulala (8/10)

Initial metres were 4 off 6 carries, while I'd like to see how many he made post-contact. Reliable as ever in the scrum, one scrum penalty comes to mind. Laulala's ruck clearances and 8 tackles will also have done a number on his former team.

Lock 4 - Cameron Suafoa (5/10)

Didn't truly go looking for work as his fellow tight-five starters did, instead taking notice of what came his way. Suafoa just had an average performance for 7 metres off 5 carries and 7 tackles. Subbed off for Tuipulotu after 54 minutes.

Lock 5 - Sam Darry (6/10)

Ever-present in the lineout hence 4 passes, while taking breakdown attendance seriously. Darry was one of the players who looked to move despite the conditions, with 14 metres off just 4 carries. 5 tackles in 80 minutes is a result of his team's possession rate.

Blindside Flanker - Anton Segner (5/10)

A night on attack to forget for Segner, who was dispatched from several breakdowns by Brodie Retallick, John Ryan and Ollie Norris. Managed just a metre off his 4 carries. 7 tackles was the joint-second-highest of the team.

Openside Flanker - Dalton Papali'i (7/10)

Found the breakdown just as tough as Segner did but managed to burst into open space a couple of times. With 29 metres, 4 defenders beaten, 1 clean break, 4 carries and 2 passes, Papali'i was one of few Blues to challenge the Chiefs' defence. 5/7 tackles isn't the flashest.

Number 8 - Hoskins Sotutu (8/10)

The conditions of this match saw Sotutu run several carries down the right wing out of the need to retain ball, for 58 metres off 15 carries. Distributed 9 passes, managed 5/5 tackles and was the only player in the Blues to win a turnover against the Chiefs.

Halfback - Finlay Christie (3/10)

Distributed a fair few off-passes to the backs and didn't have a good kicking game at all. Completed just 1/3 tackles while on defence, while conceding a silly penalty at one stage. Won't be in a hurry to repeat that bad weather effort.

First-Five - Beauden Barrett (2/10)

There's two words that describe Barrett's effort. Stat-padding. While his fanatics will rave about 63 metres, 1 defender beaten, 1 clean break off 11 carries; Barrett left 11 possible points on the board to cost the game. Missed both of his conversions, while an attempt to ground the ball closer to the posts saw Tupou Vaa'i knock Barrett's foot into the dead ball area. You can't help but feel for a guy after a game like that.

Left Wing - Caleb Clarke (8/10)

Filled the exact role his team needed in tough circumstances like these. Clarke's wise use of open space for 46 metres, 3 defenders beaten and 2 clean breaks off 7 carries still let the team retain possession, while his work under the high ball has improved a lot. 5/6 tackles.

Second-Five - Harry Plummer (4/10)

Bought in as an extra distributor for a rate of 8 carries, 1 offload and 7 passes in the 16 times he touched the ball. Didn't quite look comfortable with the timing, perhaps guilty of upsetting the team's rhythm. Made a few big hits on defence for 6/6 tackles but is better at 10.

Centre - Rieko Ioane (5/10)

A symptom of this dysfunctional backline was Ioane being pushed behind the gainline so many times, being given ball that was easy to read. Did have one nice run to reach 31 metres and 1 defender beaten off 10 carries, but was given very bad ball to work off.

Right Wing - Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens (5/10)

Barely had a handle on the ball due to the use of Sotutu out wide for ball retention. Subbed off for Sullivan in the 54th minute, departing with just 3 metres and 2 defenders beaten from 4 carries. Looked decent on defence.

Fullback - Stephen Perofeta (3/10)

If my count is correct, Perofeta was the man who coughed up the most knock-ons with four, being put to the sword by McKenzie's kicking game. Managed to run 43 metres off 9 carries but his 11 passes were of similar quality to Plummer and Christie's.

Reserve Hooker - Kurt Eklund (No rating)

Played for the last 18 minutes and won't be rated, having made only 3 carries.

Reserve Loosehead Prop - Ofa Tu'ungafasi (7/10)

Took to the pitch early in the second half and gave more grunt to the scrum. Can be thanked very much for his role in the team's high second-half possession rate and also ran 5 metres off 3 tight carries. Didn't need to attempt any tackles due to possession percentage.

Reserve Tighthead Prop - Jordan Lay (6/10)

Came on much later than Tu'ungafasi but worked off Laulala's efforts to keep possession rates high. Ran 9 metres off 3 carries in charges towards the tryline and kept the last few scrums stable.

Reserve Lock - Patrick Tuipulotu (7/10)

Carried with purpose and stole a lineout throw off Chiefs hooker Tyrone Thompson. Demonstrated what his team missed in his 8 metres, targeting the gaps between opponents. Kept the Chiefs' forwards away from the ball and will certainly start next week.

Reserve Loose Forward - Tom Robinson (No rating)

Replaced Segner with a mere 13 minutes left so won't be rated.

Reserve Halfback - Sam Nock (7/10)

Changed the game when he came on and had almost all authority on the attack shape, with much slicker passing. Ran 24 metres, beat 2 defenders and made 1 clean break off just 3 carries, turning it into anyone's game. Start him next week.

Reserve Midfielder - Corey Evans (No rating)

Evans did not come off the bench so won't be rated as he did not play.

Reserve Outside Back - Zarn Sullivan (5/10)

Did his best to move the ball with 1 pass, 12 metres and 3 carries but didn't quite get the space out wide. Probably should have come on at 15 to nullify the Weber-McKenzie kicking axis that gave his team so much trouble.

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