Super Rugby Aotearoa

Blues edge Highlanders to stay undefeated after Eden Park thriller

Aaron Smith of the Highlanders tackles Dalton Papalii of the Blues (Getty)
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders tackles Dalton Papalii of the Blues (Getty)

The Blues beat the Highlanders 27-24 in an electric Super Rugby Aotearoa clash at Eden Park on Saturday morning. 

The match was played in almost constant drizzle, but that could not silence an Auckland crowd that was at capacity in what was another superb advertisement for New Zealand rugby. 

There were some highly entertaining tries on offer, too, with the Blues scoring four to three from their visitors. 

The hosts had taken a 22-10 lead into half-time and looked to be cruising, but the Highlanders hit back with two tries in quick succession after the break to surge into the lead briefly. 

The Highlanders, three points down heading into the final 10 minutes, missed a chance to draw level when flyhalf Mitch Hunt missed a relatively routine penalty attempt. 

There was also a chance to win it in the final moments when the Highlanders looked to drive over from a rolling maul, but the Blues defence held firm. 

The Blues have now won all three of their fixtures in the competition to solidify their position on the top of the log while the Highlanders, who had a bye last week, have now won one and lost one. 

Sunday's Aotearoa action sees the Crusaders host the Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium (05:35 SA time). 

Scorers

Blues 27 (22)

Tries: Caleb Clarke, Dalton Papali''i (2), Rieko Ioane

Conversions: Otere Black (2)

Penalty: Black

Highlanders 24 (10)

Tries: Ash Dixon, Mitch Hunt, Shannon Frizell

Conversions: Hunt (3)

Penalty: Hunt

Teams

Blues

15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman

Substitutes: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Joe Marchant

Highlanders

15 Scott Gregory, 14 Sam Gilbert, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ayden Johnstone

Substitutes: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Ngane Punivai

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard