Hur­ri­canes Blues

The New Zealand Herald - - SUPER SPORT -

Pa­trick McKendry

The Blues’ re­cent win­ning pre-sea­son run came to an abrupt halt against the Hur­ri­canes, beaten 26-14 in a Su­per Rugby pre-sea­son game in Wark­worth yes­ter­day.

But far more con­cern­ing for Blues coach Tana Umaga are the in­juries to start­ing loose for­wards Jerome Kaino, Jimmy Tupou and Dal­ton Pa­pali’i.

The trio left the Mahu­rangi Rugby Club field in the first half and their con­di­tions were not read­ily avail­able to Umaga after­wards.

But he was wor­ried enough to sub­sti­tute fel­low loose for­wards Mur­phy Tara­mai and Akira Ioane in case they were also in­jured.

Vet­eran All Black Kaino and the tall, ath­letic Tupou would have been al­most cer­tain starters for the Blues’ first match of the Su­per Rugby sea­son against the High­landers in Dunedin next Fri­day, but Kaino, his left knee al­ready heav­ily strapped, must be a con­sid­er­able doubt in par­tic­u­lar.

Tupou also ap­peared to in­jure a leg but it was not im­me­di­ately known what the prob­lem was with Pa­pali’i.

“As we know, it’s not good when they come off,” Umaga said. “It’s an area where we are a bit thin.”

Blake Gib­son had al­ready sig­nalled he would miss the start of the sea­son through in­jury but fel­low loose for­ward An­to­nio Kirikiri could be avail­able, Umaga said.

The Blues had looked good in pre­sea­son to this point, beat­ing the Chiefs in Te Kuiti and claim­ing the Bris­bane Global Rugby Tens ti­tle last week­end, but they had lit­tle an­swer to the Hur­ri­canes’ pres­sure af­ter a pos­i­tive first half.

Penal­ties, li­ne­out misses and an in­abil­ity to retain pos­ses­sion all went against them, sug­gest­ing the next few days will be ex­tremely im­por­tant as they plot a win­ning start to the sea­son proper.

“There were a few mis­takes but we think we can rec­tify those go­ing in to the first game,” Umaga said.

“Credit to the Hur­ri­canes — they wanted a good hit-out and they gave it to us. There were some good lessons there for us.”

The Hur­ri­canes board a flight to Aus­tralia to­mor­row be­fore trav­el­ling to South Africa for their match against the Bulls, and the way they fin­ished yes­ter­day will put pres­sure on coach Chris Boyd’s se­lec­tion skills.

“Some of the con­tenders re­ally put their hands up, which was great to see,” Boyd said.

A week out from the Blues’ opener in Dunedin, the High­landers beat the Cru­saders 42-26 in a pre-sea­son match at Wai­mumu in South­land last night, scor­ing five tries to four.

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