Blues come home strongly
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.