It’s time to mark the Top 3 overall performers based on this afternoon’s match-up at Eden Park, where the Blues just overcame the Chiefs by four points, 21-17.
The Blues all class in defense and attack while Chiefs still need that support in the finishing side of things despite the momentum built in the forwards’ pack.
We will begin with Finlay Christie.
He successfully managed the scrummaging and build up attack having communicated carefully with Beauden Barrett out wide as the forwards created chances around him.
It helped Christie unleash the feed with the support passage of play through the channels where Matt Duffie and Patrick Tuipulotu scored a TRY each in the first half.
When the forwards toughen the defense after losing a few penalties with the ill-discipline, relived the pressure for Christie.
He spotted some gap down low & split a few dummies to successfully finish off the big score himself that put the Blues back in front.
The all-round play with his clear out kicking, running & visionary to call some support with the feed saw Christie make this list tonight.
Joining Christie is Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Tu’ungafasi looked after the Blues defense for most of the time.
His physical muscle build can stuff up the Chiefs’ unsuccessful attack at times, which helped the Blues win penalties defensively.
In the attack, he pushed inch by inch to keep the set phases patient so Christie and Barrett can take their time reading what the Chiefs’ weaknesses are & get around them.
Tu’ungafasi’s presence benefitted the backline massively in achieving the maximum points possible before Josh Goodhue came on for him with 17 minutes to go.
The momentum he created earlier on gave Goodhue a chance & figure out how to stop the Chief’s attack, having almost threatened them at times before he made Brad Weber hard to release the ball.
Goodhue credits Tu’ungafasi as the primary influence behind the defensive mindset that helped him perform very well in the Blues shirt this afternoon.
And finally, Damian McKenzie.
He completed the kicks successfully into the goalposts, having ended up spotless.
Also, McKenzie made a few fantastic threats in the attack with his visionary and running on the final third.
Unfortunately, it is the lack of a support system around McKenzie that let him down.
On occasions, the Blues defense successfully marked him where McKenzie could not find anyone to pass that can at least complete the attack.
It leads to lost penalties that went the Blues way in return with maximum opportunities completed.
So, next time, McKenzie needs more of the backline support to help him communicate closely, so the finishing is there to make the opposition feel tired and relive pressure from his forwards’ pack.
The Chiefs still yet to win in this competition with another tough encounter the Crusaders at home on Saturday night.
On the other hand, The Blues will need to overcome the Highlanders when they travel to Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin in seven days.
And they are hopeful that another win as an away side will keep them fighting to win this competition with three weeks to go.