Blues beat Canes in electric sold-out Eden Park match

By Micah Thompson

It may have been the thrill of playing at its home stadium, full to the brim, that led to this weekend's win as the Blues thumped the Hurricanes 30-20 at Eden Park.

Eden Park has not seen a crowd this big since rugby legend Tana Umaga's 100th game. Ticket sales reached a whopping 41,000 for the debut weekend of Super Rugby Aotearoa and the return of crowds after the pandemic levels eased. With Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin seeing 20,000 for the Highlanders vs Chiefs game, the weekend was an overall resounding success, with over 60,000 tickets sold.

The Highlanders beat the Chiefs 28-27. The Chiefs had trailed for most of the match but hit the lead late courtesy of a close-range Damian McKenzie drop goal, until Bryn Gatland returned the favour to secure victory in the opening match on Friday.

Yesterday Blues outside back Caleb Clark got the ball rolling with the first try in the 12th minute, off a pass set up by Reiko Ioane. However, it was the follow-up try from team captain Dane Coles, with his heavy scoring try over former teammate Beauden Barrett. 

Finishing up the first half, the matchup was fairly even with the blues up 14-13. 

Coming into the second half, Blues did their part both on offence and defence, playing a much more composed game than the Hurricanes. The 'Canes were unable to hold up, making more errors than they would have liked. 

Otere Black played an outstanding game, converting three goals and making three penalty kicks, which on his own he made up for 15 of the Blues total points.

Hurricanes did their best, coming back with a valiant try at the end of the second half from halfback Jamie Booth. Unfortunately, it was the Blues that dominated in the second half and taking home a deserved win and delighting Auckland fans.

The Blues had a stellar performance but captain Patrick Tuipulotu recognises the there's still room for improvement.

"It wasn't the best performance but for round one, I think we can be pretty happy with that," Tuipulotu says,

He also touched on the new addition to the team, Beauden Barrett.

"He's pretty good with ball in hand, I think we saw today the composure he brings as well. We added that to our strengths and we did well."

Although suffering the loss, the Hurricanes didn't leave with their heads low as captain Dane Coles acknowledging the breakdown of the Canes and the effort made by the Blues.

"I think our discipline in the second half was poor. They just kept in front with the three pointers and just got too far out. We came back, but the breakdowns a big one for us. We've got to hang on to that pill, and you can't do anything against a quality Blues team."

Coles also commented on his try against Beauden Barret saying, "It was good to play against my old mate. My eyes lit up when I seen him, he was covering defender. It was good to get the try but he got the treats. Good to see Baz playing rugby in New Zealand again."

Next weekend New Zealand will see the Chiefs face off against the Blues at FMG Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday, June 20. Kickoff starts at 7:05 pm.

And on Sunday, June 21, the Hurricanes host the Crusaders at the Sky Stadium in Wellington. Kick-off is at 3:35 pm.