WELLINGTON, June 14 (Reuters) - Otere Black outshone his more illustrious team mate Beauden Barrett to give the Auckland Blues a winning start in Super Rugby Aotearoa as they beat the Wellington Hurricanes 30-20 at a sold-out Eden Park on Sunday.
Flyhalf Black was perfect off the tee with three penalties and three conversions for 15 points, and combined with fullback Barrett to increase the tempo and drive the Blues in the second half when the visitors were heavily penalised.
The game, played in front of a crowd of 43,000, was the second fixture of New Zealand’s domestic competition involving the country’s five Super Rugby teams.
Otago Highlanders replacement Bryn Gatland slotted a 79th-minute drop goal to seal a 28-27 victory over the Waikato Chiefs, who are coached by his father Warren, in the opening match in Dunedin on Saturday.
The competition was organised after Super Rugby, which involves teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Japan and Argentine, was halted in March due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Sunday’s game had attracted significant additional interest with Barrett making his debut for the Blues after his high-profile shift north following nine seasons with the Hurricanes.
He received a reminder about where he had spent the majority of his career when Dane Coles barrelled over the top of him to score a 15th-minute try.
Coles had a few words with Barrett while TJ Perenara and Ngani Laumape, who are All Blacks team mates of Barrett, dragged the 29-year-old away to celebrate the try.
Barrett would have the last laugh, however, as Caleb Clarke, TJ Faiane and Dalton Papali’i all scored tries for the Blues, who had won five of their seven games before Super Rugby was put on hold.
The Hurricanes’ poor discipline ensured they were kept scoreless for the majority of the second half before Jamie Booth got their third try in the 78th minute after Coles and Ben Lam crossed in the first half.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford