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Blues vs Highlanders: Blues get a breakthrough win

22nd March, 2019
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Blues

33

Match Complete

Highlanders

26

80
BLU33 : 26HIG

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Roar Guru
22nd March, 2019
132
1660 Reads

Blues

33

Match Complete

Highlanders

26

O. Black77
O. Black74
P. Tuipulotu73
63M. Banks
M. Nanai56
55M. Banks
53T. Li
H. Plummer51
48M. Banks
36M. Banks
H. Plummer33
R. Ioane32
H. Plummer23
18M. Banks
17L. Whitelock
R. Ioane9
2M. Banks

4
Tries
2
2
Conversions
2
3
Penalty Goals
4
0
Field Goals
0

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Match result:

The Blues have broken a three-year streak of not being able to beat another Kiwi side with a hard-earned victory over the Highlanders at Eden Park 33 points to 26.

It wasn’t a beautiful game and there were errors from both sides but the Blues will be so happy with the way that they didn’t crumble in the key moments.

Final score
Blues 33
Highlanders 26

Match preview:

The Blues host Kiwi rivals the Highlanders in the opening match of Round 6 and will be desperate to break a 20-game losing streak against conference opposition. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of this exciting clash starting from 5:35pm AEDT.

In the three years since the Blues last beat another Kiwi side, it’s been a very tough time for the team and fans alike.

They’ve had some rough seasons and to be fair this season wasn’t forecast to be much better. However this game could be a great way to start rubbishing that forecast and climbing the conference ladder.

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For this match the Blues have gone for an interesting starting line up with some young talent on the field and coach Leon MacDonald only making three changes from the Blues last game against the Sunwolves – the Blues only win so far this season.

What’s exciting is the experience and talent that is sitting on the bench which includes four All Blacks – Ofa Tuungafasi, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Patrick Tuipulotu and Dalton Papalii.

If the Blues can be ahead or in close contact with the Highlanders come the 50-minute mark then it will be interesting to see what impact that powerful bench can have on the result.

There will be a lot of expectation on the experienced shoulders of Ma’a Nonu who will need to support young gun Harry Plummer.

If the inexperienced fly-half can unleash the talent of Nonu and winger Rieko Ioane then the Blues could carve up the Highlanders.

Ioane has scored seven tries in his last four Super Rugby outings at home and the Auckland team need that form to continue.

For the Highlanders they are putting as much of their talent on the pitch from the first whistle with Aaron Smith in particular wanting to have a good game.

When he went head to head with All Blacks rival, TJ Perenara, Smith’s understudy got the better of him and steered his team to a narrow win.

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It’ll be interesting to see how the Highlanders structure their attacking play and whether it’s Aaron Smith or Marty Banks who they launch phases from.

Smith likes to control the game with his passing, kicking and running with ball in hand, but he’ll also attract a lot of attention and so it’ll be important for the Highlanders’ hopes that Banks delivers a solid performance in his first match of 2019.

Prediction
It is three years since the Blues last beat a Kiwi opponent and ironically it was the Highlanders they beat back in 2016.

However this is not going to be repeated this time and it’s going to be the men from Dunedin who walk away with the win and the points.

Highlanders to win by 5 points.

Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 5:35pm AEDT on Friday.

Where: Eden Park, Auckland
Date: Friday 22nd March 2019
When: Kick off 17:35 AEDT
TV: Foxsports
Betting: Blues $2.26, Highlanders $1.64

Blues
15 Melani Nanai
14 Tanielu Tele’a
13 TJ Faiane
12 Ma’a Nonu
11 Rieko Ioane
10 Harry Plummer
9 Jonathan Ruru
8 Akira Ioane
7 Blake Gibson
6 Tom Robinson
5 Josh Goodhue
4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti
3 Sione Mafileo
2 James Parsons
1 Alex Hodgman.

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Replacements
16 Leni Apisai
17 Ofa Tuungafasi
18 Karl Tu’inukuafe
19 Patrick Tuipulotu
20 Dalton Papalii
21 Augustine Pulu
22 Otere Black
23 Levi Aumua or Matt Duffie

Highlanders
15 Ben Smith (cc)
14 Waisake Naholo
13 Patelesio Tomkinson
12 Thomas Umaga-Jense
11 Tevita Li
10 Marty Banks
9 Aaron Smith
8 Luke Whitelock (cc)
7 Dillon Hunt
6 Shannon Frizell
5 Tom Franklin
4 Pari Pari Parkinson
3 Tyrel Lomax
2 Liam Coltman
1 Ayden Johnstone

Replacements
16 Ray Niuia
17 Daniel Lienert-Brown
18 Siate Tokolahi
19 Josh Dickson
20 Jackson Hemopo
21 Folau Fakatava
22 Josh Ioane
23 Richard Buckman

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Nic Berry, Brendan Pickerill
TMO: Ben Skeen

2019 Form
Blues – WLLL
Highlanders – DLLWW

Played 31
Blues won 16
Highlanders won 15
Drawn 0

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