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Narawa's try helps Blues beat Highlanders

March 14, 2021 4:06 pm

Fiji born Emoni Narawa scored a try to help Blues claim a 39-17 bonus-point Super Rugby Aotearoa victory over Highlanders at Eden Park.

Narawa, who had taken Mark Telea’s place at the break, was untroubled to score out wide.

Immobility of the big Blues forward pack proved a myth as they ran rampant over the Highlanders and also secure the Gordon Hunter Memorial Shield again.

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It was a fifth consecutive home win for the Blues, the best they have achieved since 2014.

The Highlanders went into the game promising to move the big Blues pack around, and while they demonstrated that intent they were guilty of not retaining possession, turning the ball over and allowing the dangerous Blues to play their own, more powerful, running game.

The Blues scrum was impressive again, while lock Sam Darry on debut, proved an effective performer in the tight exchanges.

Initially Dalton Papalii was to the fore in the loose with some fine defence and turnover play while when he went off with an injury No. 8 Hoskins Sotutu stepped it up in concert with blindside flanker Akira Ioane.

Failure to control their own midfield bomb cost the Highlanders when the ball was taken by the Blues.

Hooker Luteru Tolai carried the ball to set up a ruck.

TEAMSPWDLPDP
CRUSADERS65015022
BLUES53022814
CHIEFS5302-2612
HIGHLANDERS6204-1210
HURRICANES6105-406

When released halfback Jonathan Ruru found fullback Stephen Perofeta running onto the ball to take a gap and provide centre Rieko Ioane with a chance.

Again, the Highlanders failed to hold him in the tackle, he regained his feet and found first five-eighths Otere Black on hand in support to cross for the opening try, nine minutes into the game.

Nine minutes later, wing Caleb Clarke crossed after No8 Hoskins Sotutu and Dalton Papalii provided set-up ball.

The Blues were hard done by when they turned ball over on their line after Highlanders wing Jona Nareki had run hard into the line only to be stopped in a tackle with Papalii securing the ball.

Second five-eighths Harry Plummer got the ball and threw a long pass to Akira Ioane standing on the sideline.

He broke a tackle and raced down the line.

Just after halfway, he flung a ball infield and while he looked to have achieved a backward movement in the passing action the TMO ruled it was a forward pass, denying Rieko Ioane what would have been a spectacular try.

Rubbing more salt into the wound, the Blues launched another lineout drive from close range in the 49th minute which saw replacement hooker Kurt Eklund ground the ball.

But four minutes later, the arrival of Ash Dixon as hooker at halftime was clear when from their first opportunity of the half, the Highlanders launched their first chance to employ the drive from close range and he showed all his aplomb in securing the try and the chance.

Narawa’s ability running onto the high ball saw him beat Ngatungane Punivai for the ball, regain his footing and break out of a tackle to pass to replacement halfback Sam Nock.

He linked with Plummer who was taken in a tackle just short of the goal-line.

But falling on his back he was free to pass to Akira Ioane running hard in support for the try.

Replacement halfback Folau Fakatava reduced the deficit nine minutes from the end when dashing around the blindside of a goal-line ruck to score.

Scorers: Blues 39 (Otere Black, Caleb Clarke, Emoni Narawa, Kurt Eklund, Akira Ioane tries; Black 4 con, 2 pen) Highlanders 17 (Ash Dixon, Folau Fakatava tries; Josh Ioane 2 con, pen). HT: 17-3.

[Source: Super Rugby]

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