Such a competitive first 40 from both teams in the Blues & Highlanders. Blues were very patient when it comes to the attack. A number of winning penalties provided those opportunities needed to get ahead. Before Mark Talea managed to touch down the big score first. Thanks to a fantastic cross kick from Otere Black.
Highlanders also doing well with plenty of involvement in the Blues zone at the start. The early three-point penalty goal reflected the build up base built defensively. But they need to sort out their lost penalties through the ill-discipline.
As the Highlanders were messy with the poor throw-ins & attacking chances. The yellow card of Ash Dixon gave the Blues some fightback. Although, the away team are not of the race just yet ahead of half-time. They just added another three-point penalty goal in the 35th minute. The score going into the 2nd half is 13-6 to Blues.
Blues may have not had the chance to extend their lead for a while. So nothing much changed when the Highlanders began to catch up at one point. Despite the fact they have scored a series of correct penalty goals against them.
But the home side did not waste any time catching up immediately. Especially when Harry Plummer’s kick from the difficult angle sinked in. Before Hoskins Sotutu found a way to turnover a scrambled Highlanders gate. That is how he got away where he assisted Blake Gibson with the finish. As Blues managed to shut them down after the full 80, 23-15 at Eden Park.
The 18 year drought is finally over for the Blues on home soil in Auckland. They deserve this moment after finishing 2nd in the 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa. It might not have been the same in the same NZ-only comp before the Trans-Tasman began. But The Blues came in clean with picking up as many victories + points possible. And they ended up as victors tonight thanks to their patient attacking shape. That is how The Blues took advantage of the Hurricanes errors.
Such as the ill-discipline and lack of executions despite the penalty goals. It puts so much pressure to their defensive end that was so hard to hold off. Thanks to Hoskins Sotutu who handed Blake Gibson the Blues winning moment. Now we are looking at the International Test season starting next month. It is a three-match tour between Australia v France.