The Blues earned their first season win with a hard-fought 28-20 victory over the Sunwolves on Saturday at the North Harbour Stadium.
All Blacks wing Rieko Ioane was certainly the star of the show as he scored all four of the Blues’ tries.
The result is a minor plaster for the Blues, who was rocked by the sudden passing of prop Michael Tamoaieta at the tender age of 23 during the week.
Ioane certainly benefitted from a slick service by scrumhalf Gus Pulu and bother Akira Ioane as the Blues climbed off the bottom of the table with the win over the Tokyo-based Sunwolves.
It was not smooth sailing for the Blues as the visitors were the first team on the board courtesy of two successful penalties by Rikiya Matsuda.
The Blues came from 6-0 down to lead the Sunwolves 15-13 at half-time with two tries from R. Ioane and a penalty and conversion from Harry Plummer.
Matsuda, who had a stellar first 40 minutes, scored all the Sunwolves points with a converted try and two penalties before the break.
It was certainly a different Blues team that entered the second half, they played with more flair and enjoyed heaps of possession as they build solid momentum. From a line-out the side came close to scoring, however Tanielu Tele’a foot was on the touchline.
Nonetheless, minutes later they had another opportunity and this time reliable R. Ioane, who had acres of space, strolled over out wide for his third try of the match, 20-13.
With a seven-point lead, the Blues was eager to add to their tally and set up another attack which the Sunwolves’ defence certainly struggled with. The visitors’ ill-discipline stuck out his ugly head and went down to 14 men when Semisi Masirewa was handed a yellow card.
It certainly went pear-shaped for the Japanese side as the Blues superstar wing Ioane bagged his fouth try with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Despite a man down, the Sunwolves refused surrender in silence and with some simplistic passes inside the the Blues’ five, the replacement Helu bashed past defender and over the line for the try. Matsuda, who was in fine form from the tee, made no mistake to add the extras.
Another yellow card was handed to Sunwolves this time replacement Nathan Vella was the culprit.
Otere Black stepped up for the kick – extending the Blues’ lead to an eight points margin and the win in the end.
“It’s been a tough few weeks,” a relieved Blues hooker James Parson said after the Blues dedicated the win to the memory of former squad member Michael Tamoaieta, who died last week.
“The way our scrum performed tonight it was all for Mikey, he was with us tonight.”
Man of the match: Aside from brother Akira Ioane, there is certainly one man that deserve this title and that is Blues’ wing Rieko Ioane. The wing not only scored four tries but his defence was just as impressive – making 10 tackles.
Tries: R.Ioane 4,
Pens: Plummer, Black
Tries: Matsuda, Helu
Cons: Matsuda 2
Pens: Matsuda 2
Yellow cards: Semisi Masirewa (Sunwolves, 55 – deliberate knock-on), Nathan Vella (Sunwolves, 74 – deliberate knock-on)