Moana Pasifika gave their neighbours a big fright as they were reduced to 14 men, before the Blues finished the job.
At Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland: Blues 32 (Tamati Tua try 9min, Ricky Riccitelli 2 tries 29min, 33min, Luke Romano try 55min, Finlay Christie try 69min; Stephen Perofeta pen, 2 con), Moana Pasifika 19 (Luteru Tolai try 37min, Abraham Pole try 46min, Tomasi Alosio try 59min; D’Angelo Leuila con, Lincoln McClutchie con). HT: 19-5.
Red card: Nepo Laulala 57min.
Make no mistake, Moana Pasifika are very much the real deal. Aaron Mauger’s men of the moment gave crosstown rivals the Blues all they could handle in Tuesday’s first Super Rugby Pacific Auckland derby at Mount Smart Stadium.
Just four days after their historic victory over the Hurricanes at the same venue, the competition new chums pushed their big brothers from up the road to the limit, eventually beaten 32-19, but not before serving up a host of anxious moments for the visitors over the run home.
There was a juncture 1src minutes into the second half when Moana looked like they might have levelled the scores (at 19-19), only for hooker Luteru Tolai to be denied a second try from the driving maul for a second movement.
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The Blues survived that danger point, as well as a red card to All Blacks tighthead prop Nepo Laula in the 57th minute for a shoulder to the head of Lincoln McClutchie at a ruck, to rather scramble victory, five tries to three. They spent much of the second 4src on the back f