Sotutu scores hat-trick as Blues fight back to beat Highlanders

rugby01 March 2024 09:40| © AFP
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Hoskins Sotutu @ Getty Images

All Blacks flanker Hoskins Sotutu grabbed a hat-trick of tries to propel the Blues to a 37-29 victory over the Highlanders on Friday.

All six Super Rugby second-round games are being played in Melbourne this weekend and the Highlanders were on a high after beating Moana Pasifika to open their season.

But they were put in their place by the formidable Blues, who rallied from an 15-8 deficit to cruise home and extend the Highlanders' run of losses to teams from their own country to 17 games.

"What I liked most about that was the way we stuck at it," said Blues skipper Dalton Papali'i, another of the All Blacks contingent.

"At the end of the day I knew the boys were going to play the full 80 (minutes). Proud of them for coming back like that."

The turning point came when Highlanders winger Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens was yellow-carded just before the break and the Blues took the lead for the first time.

They kept the pressure on with Sotutu crossing three times, while Taufa Funaki and Mark Tele'a also bagged tries for their second straight win after victory over the Fijian Drua last week.

It was the Blues' seventh consecutive win over the Highlanders – their longest ever against the Otago club.

"I think we showed that we can play, but also showed that if we don't play in the right parts of the field and give away silly penalties, the Blues will punish you," said Highlanders captain Billy Harmon.

"Tough to swallow, but a lot of good out of it."