BLUES 56 d. REBELS 18 @ AAMI PARK
THE MATCH: Alarm bells are ringing in Melbourne after just 80 minutes of the Super Rugby season, with the Rebels capitulating to an exciting, new-look Blues line-up. The hosts led 12-8 after 25 minutes following tries to captain Nic Stirzaker and new halves partner Jackson Garden-Bachop, but the Blues ran riot thereafter, scoring six unanswered touchdowns – including a hat-trick to teenage centre Rieko Ioane.
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) February 23, 2017
The Blues led 25-15 at the break and went into overdrive in the second stanza, the Rebels unable to handle the power and attacking class of the Ioane brothers and ex-Chiefs halfback Augustine Pulu, who already looks to be a buy-of-the-year contender. How good will this team be when combinations gel further and Sonny Bill Williams and George Moala are back on deck? And can the Rebels regroup?
— Fox Sports Rugby (@FOXRugbyLive) February 23, 2017
THE MAN: He may only be 19, but Rieko Ioane is destined to be the dominant midfield-back in world rugby over the next decade. Already a giant, Ioane was the standout player in last year’s Mitre 10 Cup and is geared up to set the Super 18 alight in 2017. A barnstorming treble was a handy way to start.
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) February 23, 2017
Timeline full of Rieko Ioane.
*Watches highlights* pic.twitter.com/NZkW8HTXLg
— Arwel Jones (@agjones92) February 23, 2017
THE MOMENT: The Rebels trailed by just three points with two minutes to go until halftime when Jordy Reid fired an ill-conceived pass out wide. That man again, Rieko Ioane, snaffled the intercept and raced 50 metres to score. It was a bitter blow just before the break and the Rebels never recovered.
Blues 56 (Rieko Ioane 3, Paulasi Manu, Matt Duffie, Augustine Pulu, Melani Nanai tries; Ihaia West 6 conversions, 2 penalties; Piers Francis penalty) d. Rebels 18 (Nic Stirzaker, Jackson Garden-Bachop tries; Garden-Bachop conversion; Reece Hodge 2 penalties)