Super Rugby: Blues outclass Yokohama Canon Eagles in Super Rugby pre-season showdown in Japan

The Blues have completed an encouraging pre-season stint in Japan by outclassing Yokohama Canon Eagles 57-22.

The visitors were superior in all facets of the contest at Yokohama's Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium, shutting the gate early with five first-half tries - eventually finishing with a total of nine - to back up last weekend's one-sided win over Suntory Sungoliath at Tokyo.

The new, slimmer version of All Blacks wing Caleb Clarke looked in fine touch in his first effort of 2024, running in a hattrick of tries, including a spectacular diving effort to latch on to a Stephen Perofeta crossfield kick and place the ball inches before the dead-ball line in one swift motion.

Stephen Perofeta en route to the try line for the Blues.
Stephen Perofeta en route to the try line for the Blues. Photo credit: Getty Images

After a lively start from both sides, the Blues opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Clarke, who was perfectly placed to capitalise on some slick handling from his inside backs and comfortably outpaced the cover defence. 

They doubled their lead 10 minutes later, when Perofeta was on hand to scoop up a stray pass from opposite Yu Tamura to stroll through from 20m out for the easiest of tries.

Standout midfielder Corey Evans continued his impressive showing in Japan, latching on to an inside ball from Perofeta on the back of some clinical team-wide build-up play to extend the Blues lead to 21-0.

Clarke's showstealing second try was closely followed by a bullocking sideline run by Viliame Takayawa to ensure his team didn't enter the sheds emptyhanded.

A mistake from the restart gifted the Blues one last shot at the line and Hoskins Sotutu's showtime overhead offload saw them take full advantage, as Josh Beehre's try sent the tourists into the interval with a commanding 31-5 lead. 

The second stanza began in fitting fashion, with Clarke completing his trio of tries - a diving finish out wide, courtesy of a Zarn Sullivan assist.

A misguided Caleb Tangitau pass laid an intercept try on a platter for Aucklander Luteru Laulala, but the Blues immediately responded, with Beehre burrowing over the chalk from close range for his second of the day.

Sam Nock completed a sumptuous team try in the 60th minute to bring up the half-century for the Blues.

The hosts ran in a pair of late consolation tries to Laulala and Masayoshi Takezawa, before Cole Forbes put the icing on the cake for the Blues with time expired.

The Blues will return to Auckland to round out their pre-season schedule with a hitout against the Chiefs at the North Shore's Takapuna Rugby Club next Friday. 

Blues 57 (Clarke 3, Perofeta, Evans, Beehre 2, Nock, Forbes tries; Perofeta 3 conversions, Cashmore 2 conversions) Yokohama Canon Eagles 22 (Lualala 2, Takayawa, Takezawa tries; Tamura conversion)