One week now ticked off, nine weeks to go in this year’s Super Rugby NZ only competition.
This first game of Week 2 focuses on the battle of the Bombay between the Country made Waitako Chiefs host the City boys Auckland Blues at FMG Stadium.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Blues continue its stunning start with the help of marquee signing Beauden Barrett?
Or it is redemption time for the Chiefs with experienced coach Warren Gatland at the helm after their last-minute loss v the Highlanders both happened from the previous week.
The first half again looked close from both teams mainly with penalty kicks rewards, the defense & difficulty having the accuracy towards kicking for goal, especially on a rainy night like this matchup.
Despite having to deal with 14 men via sin bin strictly before the break, the Blues’ attacking line has taken the upper hand.
The way Auckland Blues plan with the set phases built thanks to the help of the front row department patiently saw Hoskins Sotutu secure his first converted TRY for the away team.
On the other hand, the Chiefs didn’t show much of a threat on the run home but have a great base of building up the attack & exposed some of the away team’s mistakes, which saw full-back Damian McKenzie complete three penalty goals.
In the last 40, nothing much has changed where the Chiefs defense looked still out of hand.
Despite gaining another drop goal, the lack of threat in the final third has let their frontline counterparts down at home.
That’s where the Blues took advantage of the Chiefs’ weaknesses.
Having carried on with the momentum made in the attack from the first half, the away team sorted both their front row and backline departments working together.
From there, the Blues gained Both drop goals plus a Beauden Barrett drop goal and, at last, the second big score.
As said a little while ago, you see both departments at The Blues working together.
That became evident where they unpack quick passes & set pieces from Caleb Clarke to Pat Tuipioltu before Tuipioltu opened up some space the right-wing where Hoskins Sotutu helped Mark Talea pull off in the end.
All in all, it’s another fantastic game on display with a close first 40 by both teams. But having seen the Chiefs unable to match the Blues attack & still left behind in the defense, it’s the away team that left Waikato as the winners by 12 points, Chiefs 12-24 Blues.
We can’t wait for tomorrow’s other week two match up between the Hurricanes and Crusaders at Sky Stadium in the nation’s capital, Wellington.
After that, for me, it’ll be time to watch another big NASCAR Cup Series race with the GEICO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway as well as hopefully follow up an interview based on this week’s Super Rugby NZ games with a familiar face that currently hosts the studio shows.
We’ll find out soon enough in the next couple of days.
For now, please check out my video interview below from yesterday with Joe Wheeler: