Blues topple Pasifika as Clarke sees red

Murray Wenzel |

A Caleb Clarke red card has soured a second Blues win over Moana Pasifika inside five days.

The Blues broke clear for a 46-16 win at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday after the Super Rugby Pacific newcomers had threatened, down just 17-13 approaching halftime.

Pasifika didn’t fold though, prop Ezekiel Lindenmuth confident he had put his side within 13 points with 19 minutes to play before the try was overruled due to obstruction.

Their victory followed a 32-19 Blues win in a catch-up game on Tuesday.

Hooker Kurt Eklund responded with his third try to seal the contest that will be remembered for Clarke’s send-off.

The winger had jumped into the air attempting to smother rival winger Tomasi Alosio’s chip down the sideline.

Instead his right knee collected him in the head, forcing Alosio off and Clarke out of the contest and facing a suspension of several weeks.

“I guess the turning point was that try that was disallowed and then we lost a bit of momentum,” Moana Pasifika captain Sekope Kepu said.

“Credit to the Blues, they took their opportunities. They turned around from a bit of adversity and took it down to our half and they scored.”

The Blues were again without Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (foot) while Pasifika lost coach Aaron Mauger and Filo Tiatia to COVID-19 protocols before the game.

The victory took the Blues to fourth on the ladder ahead of an away clash with the Chiefs, while Pasifika next face Mauger’s former team the Highlanders on Friday.

“The thing with Moana Pasifika, they live off physical footy and, man, the score doesn’t reflect how hard that game was,” Blues captain Dalton Papalii said.

“They always bring it and you could see if you give them a little sniff anytime in the game they can really come back.

“There are times in that game we were really on the back foot and just holding on.”