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    Blues put Rebels to the sword

    2017-02-23 12:28

    Melbourne - Rising star Rieko Ioane scored a hat-trick of tries as the Blues demolished the Rebels 56-18 to launch the new Super Rugby season in Melbourne on Thursday.

    The Blues blasted the hapless Rebels by seven tries to two with flyhalf Ihaia West kicking six conversions and two penalties to pass 300 career points for the Aucklanders.

    The game marked the Blues' first victory in three trips to Melbourne and it was their biggest winning score in Australia.

    It was an eye-catching performance from 19-year-old Ioane, who made his Test debut for the All Blacks against Italy in Rome last November and heralded the arrival of a new promising star in Super Rugby this season.

    Ioane, who graduated to Super Rugby from New Zealand's Sevens team, scored an intercept try, another beating three tackles and a third backing up his brother Akira to take the final pass.

    The Blues have often been their own worst enemy in the past with their inconsistency, but under the coaching of All Black great Tana Umaga, they were more clinical in their execution, outscoring the Rebels 31-3 in the second half.

    "It's something we've been working very hard on during the pre-season to get those consistent performances and I thought we got that tonight," skipper Jimmy Tupou said.

    The Blues, who led 25-15 at half-time, were helped along in the second half by the disjointed Rebels, who missed 20 tackles.

    Nothing went right for the Rebels in their first home match of the new season before a sparse crowd on a Thursday night scheduling experiment in Melbourne.

    They started brightly but lost skipper Nic Stirzaker after he failed a concussion test from a head knock, not long after scoring the Rebels' first try in the seventh minute.

    Stirzaker joined a growing list of sidelined stars including National Rugby League recruit, winger Marika Koroibete, and Wallabies Sean McMahon, Sefa Naivalu, James Hanson and Toby Smith.

    The Rebels also lost experienced centre Mitch Inman, forcing a late backline reshuffle.

    The Blues will test their early season promise against the Chiefs in Hamilton next week, while the Rebels are away to the defending champion Hurricanes in Wellington.

    Scorers:

    Rebels

    Tries: Nic Stirzaker, Jackson Garden-Bachop
    Conversion: Garden-Bachop
    Penalties: Reece Hodge (2)

    Blues

    Tries: Pauliasi Manu, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane (3), Augustine Pulu, Melani Nanai
    Conversions: Ihaia West (6)
    Penalties: West (2), Piers Francis

    Teams:

    Rebels

    15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Jonah Placid, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Cruze Ah-Nau

    Substitutes: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Ben Volavola

    Blues

    15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Jimmy Tupou (captain), 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Pauliasi Manu

    Substitutes: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Sam Nock, 22 George Moala, 23 Rene Ranger

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    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
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