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We are about 15 minutes away from kick off here at Sky Stadium. It promises to be an absolute cracker with two very evenly matched sides.
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Our referee is Paul Williams. He will be assisted by Mike Fraser and James Doleman. The TMO is Brendon Pickerill.
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Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Harry Plummer, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 James Lay. Replacements: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Tom Robinson, 21 Adrian Choat, 22 Jonathan Ruru, 23 Tanielu Tele’a.
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Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Devan Flanders, 7 Ardie Savea (c), 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Fraser Armstrong. Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Luke Campbell, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Salesi Rayasi.
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The Blues have a bye next week so will go all out to ensure this campaign start on a solid footing.
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The Blues were runners-up in last season's competition having only lost against the Crusaders and the Hurricanes throughout their campaign. The Hurrricanes ended up in third position with five wins and three defeats.
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G'Day and welcome to Sky Stadium for our live coverage of this Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between the Hurricanes and the Blues.
1'
KICK OFF! 0-0. The Blues get us underway and the Hurricanes collect successfully.
2'
First penalty of the match goes to the Hurricanes. Otere Black attacks the gainline but support is slow to arrive and the Canes can get out of their half.
3'
Hurricanes try to set up a midfield maul but don't really make any meters. From the breakaway the Blues win a penalty on their own 22.
4'
TRY! BLUES! PAPALII! 0-5. The Blues attack under advantage down the left but the inside pass doesn't go to hand when they should score. The Canes then run it from their own line, the pass goes awry and Papalii collects to run in and score.
5'
CONVERSION! BLACK! 0-7. Easy conversion for the Blues 10.
6'
TRY! HURRICANES! AUMUA! 5-7. The hosts hit straight back with a superb try down the right touchline. TMO had a long look but it is awarded.
7'
The conversion is missed by Jordie Barrett.
10'
Another massive run by Aumua, the Blues just can't seem to get a grip of him. Black eventually brings him down but the grubber through goes dead and the Blues can clear.
13'
Blues look to have the dominance at scrum time. The ref blows for a reset on the Blues 10m line but the visitors were definitely moving forward there.
14'
Blues make good ground but Cowley-Tuioti knocks it on in midfield. Scrum to the Canes about 5 meters inside their own half.
17'
Harsh call on the Hurricanes as they attack on the Blues 22. It was called a maul within a second where the player clearly had his knees on the ground.
19'
Hurricanes put up a high ball but Clarke takes it in his 22. He clears down field but also can't find touch.
21'
Fifita goes offside on halfway so the Blues can set up an attacking play. The lineout will take place 10 meters from the Canes line.
22'
Ardie Savea wins a brilliant turnover penalty beneath his posts. Blues just can't seem to get any continuity going.
25'
Scrappy from the Blues again but fortunately for them, the Hurricanes can't make it count out wide. Blues need to get some possession and territory in the match.
28'
Now the Blues have an opportunity once again. Brilliant kick by Black sets a lineout up deep inside the Hurricanes 22.
31'
Blues win a penalty from the lineout and opt for a scrum. They dominate so the Canes collapse and the visitors have the advantage, from which nothing comes. We will scrum again.
32'
YELLOW CARD for Blackwell who will spend 10 minutes in the bin. Far too many penalties by the Canes on their own line.
35'
Savea with another turnover on his own line. The Blues fail to make all the pressure count, which could come back to bite them. They still have six minutes with a man advantage though.
39'
PENALTY! HURRICANES! BARRETT! 8-7. Brilliant long range kick by Barrett puts the hosts ahead for the first time.
40'
HALF TIME! 11-7. That will do for the first half. The Blues scored early but the Hurricanes hit straight back. The hosts then looked the better side until the Blues came back into it and should have scored. But with a man down, the Canes have scored six points to give them a lead. The Blues will have to be much better in possession if they hope to turn this around.
40'
PENALTY! HURRICANES! BARRETT! 11-7. Another brilliant kick by Barrett on the angle from about 48 meters out.
40'
Blues run from their own line and make meters, but then give away a penalty. Barrett could make them pay again.
41'
KICK OFF! 11-7. The Hurricanes get the second stanza underway.
43'
Hurricanes with the early pressure in the Blues 22 but they lose the ball. Blues collect and have a massive overlap to counter, but Ioane drops the ball with trying to make a simple pass look complicated.
46'
Blues continue to turn down the chance to kick at goal. They have not lost possession again, these opportunities are costing them big time.
49'
TRY! BLUES! CLARKE! 11-12. The Blues eventually get over. Ioane makes the outside break before a cross kick finds Clarke who scores with ease.
50'
CONVERSION! BLACK! 11-14. Black converts on the angle to give the Blues a three point lead.
53'
YELLOW CARD for Kirifi. The Hurricanes are down to 14 men for the second time in the match, this time for cynical infringement. Can the Blues make them count? They have a 5m scrum.
54'
TRY! BLUES! PEROFETA! 11-19. The Blues dominate the scrum and then go wide. They just have far too many extra players. Black can go over but he hands it off to Perofeta to score.
55'
CONVERSION! BLACK! 11-21. Black converts to give the Blues a 10-point lead. It has been a 14-point turnaround in the second half.
58'
Hurricanes win a penalty on halfway. Decision time, but they will go for touch. Barrett certainly has the distance.
61'
Hurricanes have a penalty on the Blues 5m line, centre field. They will go for touch with their scrum not functioning tonight.
62'
Savea is held up over the line after a brilliant run. Good defense though. Blues on a warning now, Hurricanes will go again from the lineout.
63'
TRY! HURRICANES! AUMUA! 16-21.Aumua has the ball at the back of the maul, breaks away and scores his second of the night.
64'
A bit of controversy here. Barrett's conversion looks to have sailed between the uprights but the flags have stayed down.
67'
Blues kick for goal from 40 meters out but Plummer does not have the distance. Either he miss kicked that or he should steer clear of long range efforts.
68'
That last conversion could become a huge talking point. Clearly looked over on replays.
71'
Blues with a lineout on their own 10m line but the Hurricanes win it. Here is a chance for the hosts with only eight minutes to play.
73'
Telea gets the Blues out of trouble with a superb break from his own 22. He takes the play well into Hurricanes territory.
76'
PENALTY! BLUES! BLACK! 16-24. Black converts the penalty to give the Blues an 8 point lead.
77'
TRY! BLUES! IOANE! 16-29. A cross-kick from the Hurricanes is knocked forward by Goosen. Ioane collects and runs 60 meters to score.
78'
CONVERSION! BLACK! 16-31. Black converts after the ball hits the post and goes over.
80'
FULL TIME! 16-31. The Blues come away with a comfortable win in the end. It was a far better performance in the 2nd half after the Canes went into the break in the lead. Plenty to work on from both sides.
Hurricanes
Blues
2
Tries
4
6' Aumua Asafo
63' Aumua Asafo
4' Papalii Dalton
49' Clarke Caleb
54' Perofeta Stephen
77' Ioane Rieko
0
Conversions
4
5' Black Otere
50' Black Otere
55' Black Otere
78' Black Otere
2
Penalties
1
38' Barrett Jordie
38' Barrett Jordie
76' Black Otere
0
Drop Goals
0
0
Yellow Cards
0
0
Red Cards
0
15
Squad
15
Armstrong Fraser
Aumua Asafo
Lomax Tyrel
Blackwell James
Scrafton Scott
Fifita Vaea
Savea Ardie
Flanders Devan
Taumateine Jonathan
Garden-Bachop Jac...
Savea Julian
Laumape Ngani
Proctor Billy
Goosen Wes
Barrett Jordie
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
Lay James
Eklund Kurt
Laulala Nepo
Tuipulotu Patrick
Cowley-Tuioti Gerard
Ioane Akira
Papali'i Dalton
Sotutu Hoskins
Nock Sam
Black Otere
Clarke Caleb
Plummer Harry
Ioane Rieko
Telea Mark
Perofeta Stephen
8
Reserves
8
Riccitelli Ricky
Numia Xavier
Fidow Alex
Prinsep Reed
Kirifi Du'Plessis
Campbell Luke
Umaga-Jensen Peter
Rayasi Salesi
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
Luteru Tolai
Tuinukuafe Karl
Tuungafasi Ofa
Goodhue Joshua
Robinson Tom
Choat Adrian
Ruru Jonathan
Tele'a Tanielu