Saturday, October 1, 2022

Repeat victory for Blues over Moana Pacific in Super Rugby

AUCKLAND, New Zealand ( Associated Press) – Hooker Kurt Eklund scored three tries when the Blues beat 46-16 in Super Rugby Pacific on Saturday in the Super Rugby Pacific, overcoming their neighbor Auckland for the second time in five days.

The Blues won a catch-up match between the teams 32-19 on Tuesday and came out on top again in a crushing meeting in which All Blacks and Blues wing Caleb Clarke received a red card. Blues and All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala also received a red card in Tuesday’s game and was suspended for three weeks

The teams were more matched than the leaderboard suggested. Moana Pasifika led 6-3 early on with penalty kicks and stayed in touch with the Blues for most of the first half. But Eklund’s hat-trick was decisive in winning the Blues for the third time in eight days.

“The thing with Moana Pasifika, they live off physical footwork and, man, the score does not reflect how difficult that game was,” Blues captain Dalton Papalii said. “They always bring it and you can see if you give them a little sniff at any time in the game, they can really come back.

“There times in that game we were really on the back foot and just held on.”

After the early exchange of penalties, the Blues delivered the first three of the game to center Corey Evans in the 17th minute, and four minutes later another to Clarke to take a 17-6 lead.

Moana Pasifika hit back with a try to wing Tomasi Alosio to reduce the score to 17-13, but Eklund’s first try in the 34th minute gave the Blues a break approaching halftime.

Eklund scored again in the 46th and 66th minutes to become the first hooker in Blues history to score three tries in a game.

Clarke’s red card came in the 52nd minute for taking Alosio out in the air, but it did not break the Blues’ momentum.

Prop Ezekial Lindenmuth looked like he was going to push for Moana Pasifika in the 62nd, but his three were conceded and that made the game swing in full favor of the Blues.

“I think the turning point was those three that were conceded and then we lost some momentum,” said Sekope Kepu, captain of Moana Pasifika. “Credit to the Blues, they seized their opportunities. They turned around from a bit of adversity and took it down to our half and they pushed. ”

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More Associated Press rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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