Super Rugby Pacific: Blues recapture winning form over Queensland Reds, but lose Beauden Barrett to injury

Star first-five Beauden Barrett was forced off with injury, but his Blues recaptured winning Super Rugby Pacific form, with a 45-26 victory over Queensland Reds at Brisbane.

The All Blacks veteran was guiding the Aucklanders expertly towards much-needed success, when he left the field soon after halftime, with a foot injury that prevented his return.

Against a side that toppled the previously unbeaten Chiefs last weekend, the Blues showed their depth, moving second-five Harry Plummer into the pivot and bringing double international Roger Tuivasa-Sheck off the bench to kick clear over the final quarter.

Zarn Sullivan scores a try against the Reds
Zarn Sullivan scores a try against the Reds. Photo credit: Photosport

They led just 17-14 at the break, but as Barrett departed, acting captain Patrick Tuipulotu stretched the lead to double figures, before a try to replacement winger Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens put the contest beyond doubt.

Queensland took advantage of a yellow card to lock James Tucker to score late tries through No.8 Harry Wilson and fullback Jock Campbell, but they were nullified by five-pointers to Mark Telea and Taufa Funaki, as the Blues moved into position for a home quarter-final.

Faced with another mandated All Blacks rest requirement, coach Leon MacDonald sat international stars Caleb Clarke, Reiko Ioane, Finlay Christie and Ofa Tu'ungafasi, with captain Dalton Papali'i serving a three-game suspension.

Despite their patchy form throughout this year's competition - including a second loss to the defending champion Crusaders last week - the Blues never looked under threat, but allowed their opponents to stay close, when prop Sef Fa’agase score on the stroke of halftime.

The Reds had toppled the previously unbeaten Chiefs last week, but could not operate at the same level in consecutive outings.

Afterwards, Barrett seemed to move freely on what seemed like an ankle niggle, but MacDonald will hope the injury isn't too serious, with playoffs looming.

"We're quite lucky, we have Harry Plummer, who fills that void very well," reflected Tuipulotu. "We put all our trust in whoever backs him up and fills that role, when Beauden goes.

"Tonight, we lost Beauden, but Harry did it very well, with guys around him, like Zarn Sullivan and Bryce [Heems], to complement him."

The Blues move past the Hurricanes into fourth place on the competition table, but the Wellingtonians face the Chiefs on Saturday, before visiting their Auckland rivals seven days later.

Blues 45 (Sullivan, Barrett, Tuipulotu, Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Telea & Funaki tries; Barrett penalty & 2 conversions, Plummer 4 conversions) Queensland Reds 26 (Flook, Fa'agase, Wilson & Campbell tries; Creighton 3 conversions)

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