Blues Player Ratings vs Hurricanes (Round 2, 2022)
Written by Max Sharp.
The Blues began their season on Saturday night against the Hurricanes, who were fresh off a 10-point loss to the Crusaders. The game seemed all but over, with the Blues were 18 points ahead of the Hurricanes in the 71st minute. The final score though, saw the Blues lose by one point; a 32-33 loss. Let's dive into the Blues' player ratings (based on statistics from Ultimate Rugby's app) and see who went well and who didn't.
Blues Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Alex Hodgman (6/10)
Just a slightly above average game for Hodgman, he can be commended for his contribution to the Blues' 100% scrum success rate. Just 5 metres from 3 carries and only 6 tackles, did make three passes though. Did enough to keep his starting spot for next week.
Hooker - Kurt Eklund (9/10)
A workhorse performance for the old boy, now in his third season with the Blues. Two brilliant tries off the driving maul, whilst he made 19 metres and beat two defenders. Made the joint fourth-most tackles for the Blues too. Was subbed off in the 52nd minute for Riccitelli.
Tighthead Prop - Nepo Laulala (6/10)
He looked a bit rusty but worked hard for his team. Laulala's stat sheet finished very close to Hodgman's, though Laulala ran 10 metres off 5 carries, beating a defender and making 2 passes. Solid rather than spectacular.
Lock 4 - Josh Goodhue (8/10)
The Northland stalwart had the best game of his career so far, Goodhue is coming out of the shadow of his injured twin brother. Made more passes than three of the Blues' starting backs with 9, whilst huge effort went into his defence; 9 tackles and 3 turnovers. Great game.
Lock 5 - Luke Romano (7/10)
Looked very much at-home in the Blues' pack, playing 58 minutes on debut for the club. Romano used his added bulk to good effect in the scrum, while he ran 20 metres off 8 carries and made 8 tackles. Lineout success was 100% for the team, so credits to Romano in regards to that side of the set piece too.
Blindside Flanker - Tom Robinson (7/10)
Robinson lead the team well, bringing his off-field bravery on to the pitch. Floated wide with ball-in-hand a few times, got close to scoring a few times, allowing him to chalk up 25 metres. 10 tackles was the team's third-most, while he did win a turnover too.
Openside Flanker - Adrian Choat (8/10)
Another player who had the best of his career was Adrian Choat. Contributed 2 turnovers on defence, whilst his 19 tackles were the game's most for an individual. Was useful on attack with 20 metres, will be good cover while the captain, Dalton Papali'i, is injured.
Number 8 - Hoskins Sotutu (6/10)
A bit of a hit-and-miss performance for Sotutu to be honest. Made a silly kick inside the Hurricanes' half, while his 8 carries often went into brick walls of defence. Sotutu's best contribution to the game was defence, with 9 tackles and a turnover. Will be better next time.
Halfback - Finlay Christie (5/10)
Just did the basics to a reasonable standard. Christie just focused on the communication aspect with the game-high 60 passes and an offload, only made 2 carries himself. Tackled when he needed to with 3. Christie's allowed an average performance every now and then.
First-Five - Harry Plummer (5/10)
It's harsh to say so, but Plummer's goal-kicking has cost another game for the Blues. He missed a penalty and conversion, the Hurricanes only missed one conversion through Ruben Love. Communicated well and won a turnover, games can come down to small errors at this level though. Plummer ran 24 metres and passed 26 times, redeeming his rating a bit.
Left Wing - Caleb Clarke (9/10)
Well well well, the big winger is back in style! Busted through two defenders to score the Blues' first try, while he ran 95 metres, 3 clean breaks and beat 5 defenders from just 8 carries. Came off his wing for some defence too, made 8 tackles and 2 turnovers. A test re-call needs to happen.
Second-Five - Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (8/10)
The league convert had a very industrious performance on debut, breaking the ankles of 4 defenders whilst running his 50 metres. Brilliant defending with 13 tackles, while his 11 passes and 3 offloads opened space for his team. Keep an eye on this one!
Centre - Rieko Ioane (7/10)
Ioane was indeed the quietest of the Blues' strike runners, but still got involved plenty, got close to scoring a try, while he ran 63 metres and beat 4 defenders. Ioane's 9 passes and 2 offloads gave plenty of opportunities to the wings, he looks more and more like a centre now.
Rieko Ioane (pictured in 2021) continues to transform from a left wing and into a centre for the Blues. Photo: Max Sharp.
Right Wing - Mark Telea (9/10)
If Conrad Smith was a snake, then I guess 25-year-old Telea is a serpent. His 125 metres off 13 carries was a game-high, while he beat 3 defenders. Really displayed his all-round game by producing 3 passes, 9 tackles and a turnover. Telea was robbed of an All Black cap.
Fullback - Zarn Sullivan (7/10)
Didn't quite match the devastating game his older brother had for the Hurricanes, but lived up to the hard task of marking the Hurricanes' backs. Ran 58 metres and a clean break, Sullivan will shine more when Beauden Barrett returns; someone has to kick the goals!
Reserve Hooker - Ricky Riccitelli (7/10)
Kudos to Riccitelli for completing the game with a 100% lineout record. He picked up where Eklund left off and made a mark on his debut with 14 metres off 6 carries, making a mammoth 10 tackles (joint third-most for the Blues) in just 28 minutes.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - Ofa Tu'ungafasi - 4/10
Tu'ungafasi scrummaged well but still doesn't seem quite right from his 2021 knee injury. Just a mere 3 metres and 4 tackles, while he also missed a bad tackle on Brayden Iose and made a handling error. Would be a real shame if he's now past the peak of his career.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Marcel Renata - 7/10
Renata is the only Blues prop without a test cap but is still a very talented player. He made 25 metres from 2 carries including a stormer of a run where he beat 3 defenders. Well done to him for contributing to the 100% scrum rate too.
Reserve Lock - Sam Darry (6/10)
A solid performance off the bench for the 21-year-old. Scored a try from his 4m and 3 carries, while he contributed 5 tackles and a turnover to the defence line. Darry will get better and better with time, a scary prospect.
Reserve Loose Forward - Anton Segner (7/10)
Played for only 17 minutes but he still made an impact. The German-born Segner, will be eligible for the All Blacks in 2024, so his 24 metres run and 2 defenders beaten could be the start of a very long Super Rugby career. 5 tackles too, very strong cameo from the blindside.
Reserve Halfback - Sam Nock (5/10)
Nock made 5 tackles and a turnover but was completely missing on attack. He's been a fabulous character for Northland and the Blues, but just isn't quite at the next level. Only 19 passes, the team just didn't have enough possession to let Nock make an impact.
Reserve First-Five - Stephen Perofeta (5/10)
Perofeta was in a similar circumstance to Nock and just couldn't get his hands on the ball enough, though he did manage to beat a defender during his 13 metres run. Should start at 10 if Barrett remains unavailable due to concussion.
Reserve Utility Back - Tanielu Tele'a (No rating)
Tele'a replaced Caleb Clarke off the bench with only five minutes left of the game, not enough to give him a proper player rating.