Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021: Scintillating Blues outclass Highlanders at Eden Park

The Blues have put on a near-perfect display to thrash the Highlanders 39-17 at Eden Park. 

The home side put on a show for their fans, as they threw the ball around to score a five-tries-to-two victory in their Super Rugby Aotearoa clash, played under COVID-19 Alert Level 1. 

The visitors made a fast start and were rewarded with a penalty goal to Josh Ioane, but the Blues dominated the remaining 35 minutes of the opening stanza. 

In the 10th minute, they grabbed their first try through Otere Black, after Stephen Perofeta darted through the defensive line and laid the ball off for the Blues first-five. 

The home side didn't have to wait long for their second, with wing Caleb Clark crossing just eight minutes later. 

The visitors made life difficult for themselves, continuously infringing and putting pressure on themselves. 

Referee Mike Fraser saw enough after eight straight penalties and sent Josh Dickson to the sin bin on the stroke of halftime, after the Highlanders lock took Clarke out, as he contested a high kick. 

The visitors held on and took confidence into the sheds, only trailling 17-3, after having no possession and territory.

But the Blues came out on fire in the second half and only needed three minutes to grab their third try of the afternoon, with replacement wing Emoni Narawa crashing over, after a great backline move. 

With victory safe, coach Leon MacDonald rang the changes and one of those replacements - hooker Kurt Eklund - crashed over from a perfect lineout drive to extend his side's lead. 

Blockbusting All Blacks flanker Akira Ioane, who had a huge performance for the Blues, wrapped up the scoring for his side, when Narawa grabbed a Sam Nock high kick and dashed downfield, before offloading to Ioane to score his side's fifth try. 

The Highlanders grabbed two late consolation tries through Ash Dixion and Folau Fakatava, but they were too little too late. 

All eyes will turn to the top-of-the-table clash next week between the Blues and the Crusaders, which should see a packed crowd at Eden Park. 

The Highlanders will go back to the drawingboard and prepare for the Hurricanes in two weeks, after their bye. 

Blues 39 (Black, Clarke, Narawa, Eklund, Ioane tries; Black 4 conversions, 2 penalty goals) Highlanders 17 (Dixon, Fakatava tries; Ioane 2 conversions, penalty goal)

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