Nine tries, 75 points scored, 25 offloads, 18 clean line breaks and 45 defenders beaten – yes, it’s safe to say that Super Rugby is back with a bang!
The Auckland Blues travelled to the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin to take on the Highlanders this morning as the New Zealand conference gets underway this weekend and viewers were rewarded for getting up early as they were treated to a sublime game of rugby which resulted in a 41-34 victory for the Highlanders.
Bryn Gatland, son of Warren, was instrumental for the Blues which a 19-point haul but it wasn’t enough to cause an upset as a yellow card to Antonio Kirikiri early in the second half opened the door for a Highlanders comeback.
Matt Duffie’s try in the first half was one of the many highlights of the game as it contained some sublime offloading in the build-up.
Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane and Duffie were all involved for the latter to touch down after 24 minutes as the Blues started at a blistering pace.
Just @Rieko_Ioane, Matt Duffie, and @SonnyBWilliams doing their best Sonny Bill Williams impressions… It’s raining offloads in #HIGvBLU, live on SS Action now. 24-31 with half an hour left to play. #SuperRugby pic.twitter.com/yjSclwWXox
— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) February 23, 2018
Aaron Smith showed why he is regarded as one of the best scrum-halves in the world with a masterclass display for the Highlanders and his performance helped steer his side to a crucial opening weekend victory.
Overall, it was an incredible game and we’re not the only ones who were blown away by what was on show in Dunedin.
— Kieran Mc Menamin (@KieranM8982) February 23, 2018
— De Wet (@DeWethers) February 23, 2018
What a BRILLIANT opener for this weekends rugby action ! Well played to Kiwi ref Jamie Nutbrown for his part in this thrilling fixture which could have gone either way #HIGvBLU #SuperRugby #SSRugby #FoxSports #SkySports @BluesRugbyTeam @Highlanders
— Jonathan Kaplan (@RefJK) February 23, 2018
What a amazing game of rugga #HIGvBLU , but my man of the match go to best 80 min of refereeing I have seen in many moons (Jamie Nutbrown)
— Whenna (@Whenna_Rugby) February 23, 2018
— Luke Mathews (@lukemathews7) February 23, 2018
That Duffie try…
— Olebile (@LebstaBru) February 23, 2018
How many times have we seen Ioane pass to Duffie today. So good seeing those two link up! #HIGvBLU
— Javeed Ali (@JNAli09) February 23, 2018