Blues come home strongly

Sunday News - - RUGBY -

Hyland en­joyed his first start at this level with two well-taken tries, Rieko Ioane was a con­stant dan­ger once the pos­ses­sion flowed his way, Michael Collins was sharp at full­back and up front the Blues got plenty from the 50-game Pa­trick Tuip­u­lotu and, once again, the ram­pag­ing Akira Ioane at No 8.

The slow-start­ing Blues had made pre­dictably hard work of their first 40, trail­ing 10-5 at the break after a half fea­tur­ing a try apiece but all too lit­tle of qual­ity from the vis­i­tors.

The Sun­wolves made much of the play for the open­ing 40 and their up-tempo, ball-in-hand ap­proach clearly un­set­tled the vis­i­tors who strug­gled to find their rhythm early on.

The Blues’ start was un­set­tled by an early yel­low card for lock Tuip­u­lotu for a late hit on Ko­taro Mat­sushima, though they sur­vived that pe­riod with just the three points con­ceded for the ini­tial of­fence.

But the home lead grew to 10-0 just past the open­ing quar­ter when cen­tre Tim­o­thy Lafaele fin­ished a nice break from Kiwi Hay­den Parker. At that stage the Blues were star­ing down their worst night­mare, though a try to wing Hyland a dozen min­utes from the break eased those con­cerns a lit­tle, and halved the deficit.

Stephen Pero­feta had sparked the open­ing with a break­out off turnover pill and was on hand to pro­vide the wide pass to the North­land wing that gave him the space to bump off two would-be tack­lers and charge in for his first try at this level.

Still, the Blues had to be bet­ter when they re­turned after half­time.

For­tu­nately they were, with early tries to Akira Ioane (his sev­enth of the sea­son) and re­place­ment loose for­ward Dal­ton Pa­pali’i al­low­ing the vis­i­tors to ease out to a 19-10 lead in­side the first quar­ter of an hour.

For the Blues it’s now all about back­ing this up when they re­turn to Auck­land to host the High­landers on Fri­day.

Blues No 8 Akira Ioane on the charge in Tokyo.

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