Northlanders shine in Super RugbySave
By Andrew Johnsen
Northland halfback Sam Nock returned from injury to captain the Blues A side to a 55-31 victory against the Chiefs Development team.
Blues A got revenge for their recent loss to the team with a nine-try display, led around the park with accuracy by first-five Stephen Perofeta.
Northland flanker Kara Pryor crossed the line for a try joining former Taniwha captain Rene Ranger, Pisis Leilua, Perofeta (two), Brandon Nansen, Nock, Declan O'Donnell and Matt Vaega.
Nock brushed off the injury to provide crisp service for his backline to capitalise on.
Blues A coach Dale MacLeod said the side were better set mentally for the match which led to strong performances from his side.
"The boys had a far better mindset, lot more focused around getting the job done. They had a bit more incentive to perform well and put pressure on Tana to pick them for the upcoming South Africa tour," he said.
"Sam was one of many who played well. The side was made up of mainly Blues players which helped us out a lot.
"Sam's shoulder gave him a couple of issues but he looked very good out there. He had a bit of bad luck with the shoulder and bronchitis. I wouldn't be surprised if he was in the Blues' lineup against the Bulls.
The former New Zealand Under-20 halfback is looking to press his claims to make the Blues 23 in their fledgling Super Rugby campaign.
Other Northlanders to impress were lock Josh Goodhue, props Namatahi Waa and Howard Sililoto and flanker Pryor. All were part of an aggressive forward pack that remained lively throughout the taxing fixture.
MacLeod said the Northland contingent played particularly well.
"Namatahi was impressive and could possibly be back in the Blues' squad for the South African tour. Howard also looked good out there before pulling his calf," he said.
"Kara and Josh both played well too. Josh did all his core roles well before going off injured."
This is MacLeod's first campaign as the Blues A coach, but he maintained there was a sameness about the role from his assistant's one last year.
"Not much has changed really," he said.
"When Jacko [Steve Jackson] was coach last year it was all very similar for me. I just go about my job as usual.
"Having quality players in your side helps a lot too. The role has given me a chance to lead a programme though which has been great."
The side's next match is on April 1 against the Hurricanes A.
Northland standout fullback Solomon Alaimalo had a mixed bag on debut for the Chiefs in their Super Rugby round four win over the Melbourne Rebels.
Playing on the wing, Alaimalo showed glimpses of what made him a hot commodity during the Mitre 10 Cup last season but his debut was marred by a brain fade in the second half.
Alaimalo was sent to the sinbin for a spear tackle on opposite wing Sefa Naivalu in the 57th minute with the Chiefs trailing 11-7.
Luckily the Chiefs had far too much class and ran away to beat the Rebels 27-14.
Outside of that error, Alaimalo looked secure at Super level and will be likely to get more game time as the season progresses.
Meanwhile, Northland captain Matt Moulds had another strong display off the bench in the Blues' 33-24 loss to the Crusaders.
Moulds replaced captain James Parsons and was his industrious self, getting fully involved in the clash while performing his core roles well.
Moulds had two starts earlier in the season and showed he is a hooking option for the future in the Blues.