Super Rugby Pacific: Blues overwhelm Fijian Drua to kick off 2024 campaign in style

The Blues have ensured the Vern Cotter era got off to the perfect start, taking a 34-10 victory over Fijian Drua to begin their Super Rugby Pacific season.  

Taking to the field at Whangārei's Semenoff Stadium instead of Eden Park, the home side secured a bonus point win to kick off 2024, and ran in six tries to one to blow out the cobwebs in their first competitive game of the year.  

Making the most of the chance to be the Blues' first-choice fullback to start the season, Zarn Sullivan impressed with a double, while Hoskins Sotutu did the same from No.8.  

After a fast start from the Drua inside the opening 10 minutes, the Blues' opened the scoring through Sotutu, benefiting from a powerful drive from his forward pack.

Zarn Sullivan impressed at fullback for the Blues.
Zarn Sullivan impressed at fullback for the Blues. Photo credit: Getty Images

However, Stephen Perofeta was denied the conversion in controversial circumstances, as the wind blew the ball off the tee, as the Drua charged down the attempt as the kicker moved to place it again.  

Five minutes later, Caleb Clarke celebrated his 50th Blues game in style, and was on hand to score under the posts after making the most of a deflected pass from Finlay Christie.  

As the Drua's discipline came into focus – after conceding five successive penalties in their own half – Sullivan touched down on the right wing for the third try of the first half, to push the Blues' lead to a 17-0 lead.  

A scrum penalty allowed the Drua to score their first points of the afternoon through the boot of debutant Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, only for the Blues to answer through Dalton Papali'i, as a Perofeta cutout pass put the captain in to score on the right.  

A break from Elia Canakaivata threatened to breach the Blues' defence before the break, only to be foiled by Christie's tackle.   

The Drua's effort was hit even further, as Armstrong-Ravula was shown yellow for repeat infringement, before Sotutu finished the first half with his second, after an Angus Ta'avao chargedown and Isikeli Rabitu fumble saw the ball loose on the tryline.   

But despite their numerical disadvantage, the Drua scored their first try of the afternoon to start the second half, as lock Ratu Rotuisolia crashed over, as the Blues lost Christie to the sin bin for repeat infringements.  

However, even with the tables turned and having an extra man of their own, the Drua weren't able to capitalise.  

Once back to 15 on 15, Sullivan had his second after the hour mark as he added a score in the right corner to his first half effort on the left.  

There were comical scenes in the final 10 minutes, as Papali'i was replaced by outside back Cole Forbes, who was forced to play in the loose forwards with no other options available on the bench for the Blues.

The Drua were denied a consolation effort at the end, when a kick-through hit the post to deny the oncoming Kemu Valetinu, even if it would have been too little too late for the visitors.  

Victory sends the Blues to third on the table, albeit after one match played, behind the Hurricanes and Brumbies on points differential.  

The Blues return to action in six days' time, when they begin the 2024 Super Round against the Highlanders in Melbourne. 

Blues 34 (Sotutu 2, Clarke, Sullivan 2, Papali'i tries; Perofeta 2 conversions)  

Fijian Drua 10 (Rotuisolia try; Rabitu conversion; Armstrong-Ravula penalty)