Tuivasa-Sheck’s breakthrough rugby moment

This article originally appeared on Stuff and is reproduced with permission

You don’t give a team like the Blues the leg up that Highlanders hooker Andrew Makalio did with his first-half moment of madness, and the Super Rugby Pacific minor premiers were more than good enough to do the rest at Eden Park on Saturday night .

The Blues ran in five unanswered tries to, eventually, shake loose a determined Highlanders challenge and prevail 35-6 in the third quarterfinal, earning a home semi back at Fortress Eden Park next Saturday. They will meet the winner of the Brumbies-Hurricanes clash in Canberra.

With big-game players Beauden Barrett (two tries in a command performance) and Stephen Perofeta (104 first-half running meters) showing the way, the Blues eventually stepped up after a shaky opening half-hour to take control of the match, cruising to a record 14th straight victory in 2022 in front of a jubilant crowd of 23,500.

Watch every game of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific finals, streaming ad free, live and on demand only on Stan Sport. Sign up for your free seven day trial!

Tuivasa-Sheck crosses for first Super try

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck continued his steady rise in his new code with another strong showing, and his first try of this outstanding campaign, and AJ Lam put in a handy extended turn off the bench for the home side who never missed a beat after the late reshuffle caused by skipper Dalton Papalii’s being struck down by appendicitis.

Akira Ioane was excellent in a home pack that eventually got on top and Hoskins Sotutu and Tom Robinson got through plenty of work as well.

Ethan de Groot was excellent for the Highlanders, both at set piece and around the park, and halfback Folau Fakatava showcased his skills in a strong effort for the visitors who could never recover their poise after the loss of Makalio.

READ MORE: NSW’s fairytale ends with heavy loss to Chiefs

READ MORE: What really happened in painful Rebels decision

READ MORE: Wallaroos change playmaker for Black Ferns Test

The Blues were not exactly at their free-flowing best as they rather painfully eked out a 14-6 halftime lead courtesy of a crucial two-try burst over the final 10 minutes of the spell.

The Highlanders gave an excellent account of themselves through the opening half-hour, denying their hosts the possession platforms they feast off, and edging out to a 6-0 lead via a pair of Marty Banks penalties. A procession of Blues handling errors also helped their cause.

But when Makalio was red-carded for a 22nd-minute shoulder charge to the head of Blues forward Tom Robinson, in the same play phase where Akira Ioane was puzzlingly denied a try that replays indicated was scored, but which the TMO deemed “not conclusive “, the match took its first significant turn.

Ioane brothers combine for try

The Blues eventually punished the undermanned Highlanders, with Akira Ioane and Beauden Barrett crossing over the run-in to the break, Akira put across via a nice short ball from his brother Rieko, and Barrett’s turning on the gas from 30 meters out and leaving Ethan de Groot, among others, flapping in the air.

The Blues dominated the second spell, with Barrett grabbing his second try off a slick backline move from the lineout, Lam was rewarded for a strong chase of a Barrett high kick when Marty Banks spilt ball and Tuivasa-Sheck wrapped things up with a beautiful step off his right as Rieko Ioane and Hoskins Sotutu did the setup work.

The big moment

Had to be Makalio’s brain explosion when his shoulder thudded into Robinson’s head area at a breakdown, and the visitors’ chances went down the toilet with it. At that stage, the Landers were winning the arm-wrestle, but the numerical advantage proved handy in changing momentum for the minor premiers.

Match rating: 7/10

Five quality tries from the Blues elevated a pretty muddled affair and provided some entertainment for the big crowd of 23,500. With handling clearly tricky, just too many errors for this to be a classic.

The big picture

The Blues will be back at Eden Park to host a semifinal against the winner of the Hurricanes’ visit to the Brumbies. On the evidence of this, they will be tough to peg back, though the Landers did offer a hint of how to go about frustrating them over the opening half-hour.

MVP

A massive battle between two-try hero Barrett and the inspirational Perofeta who on this form must be entering the national conversation. We’ll give it to Barrett who offered a timely reminder that he’s back playing the rugby of his life.

Sean Maloney and Andrew Mehrtens look back on an amazing final round of Super Rugby Pacific and are joined by sevens world champion Dom du Toit

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by CLICK HERE!

#TuivasaShecks #breakthrough #rugby #moment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.