A bit delayed but – I was at this game last Saturday. Canes had a stacked side with a couple of Super WTG guys in there (Jonah Lowe, Hugh Renton) and quite a few others with Mitre 10 experience. They certainly weren’t all U20 so was a good test for the young Blues side. Blues came out guns blazing to take an early 19-5 lead. Caleb Clarke scorching the Hurricances for 2 awesome long range efforts. The first one from halfway, hugging the line and just getting on the outside of his marker off a beautiful flat pass from fullback Otu Mausia. The chasers shouldn’t even have bothered. The 2nd one after getting back to support the fullback following a Canes clearing kick. Clarke took a pass on his own 22 metre line – again close to the touchline – and just gassed it down the left touchline. Beat the first guy with power, beat the cover defender with pure pace then an in and away with only about 2 metres of the sideline to work with to beat the last line. It was a joy to watch!! Canes kept it tight and ground away to score 2 tries of their own to make the score 19all at halftime. The 2nd half was an even affair. Errors creeping in to both sides games understandable given all the movement on the subs benches. In the end it was only 2 missed conversions in it. Both teams scored 2 tries in the 2nd half, the Canes converting both of theirs. Final score 33-29 to the Canes. Blues staff would have been quietly pleased with that effort as they would certainly have to have been considered the underdogs. 10 (out of 26) of that Blues 20s squad will be eligible again next year against probably just 2 from the Canes (Proctor and Moimoiseia).
Players to catch the eye for the Blues.
Dalton Papali’i – Gee this kid is a machine. It’s no wonder he is very highly regarded in the Blues organization. Another 2 tries against the Canes to go with his 2 the week before against the Chiefs 20s.
Caleb Clarke – Will easily be the first choice winger for the NZ U20s. Bigger, stronger and faster than his old man at the same age. Crazy to think he is still 17 – turning 18 this year.
TJ Vaega – Although not tall for an outside back –was great under the high ball, and extremely dangerous with ball in hand making a lot of threatening runs.
Cameron Suafoa – Big test against the premiere up n coming lock Walker-Leawere but gave a good account of himself. Called up to the March NZ U20s camp
Tanielu Tele’a – Given a start this week after good impact off the bench against the Chiefs the week before. Looked confirtable at this level. Also called up to the NZ U20s camp
Lewis Gjaltema – Great game by the halfback. Ran well and good option taking.
Cheers – ex pat Aucklander living in the capital.