In our Massey Fergus Rebels Recall series, Michael Ruru recounts the Rebels breakthrough win against the Blues at Eden Park in 2018.
Within the context of the season, how important was this match?
It was a massive game for us on the back of a shaky middle period of the season. We gathered some momentum as a team coming from behind to beat the Brumbies away a few weeks prior and the Sunwolves at home.
So, within the playing group we had built strong confidence that we could go to NZ and do the job heading into the June Break. At this point of the season every point counted for our overall conference standing.
What was the focus going into the game?
We had been concentrating all week on what we could control and trying to ensure we played our game the way we wanted to play by backing our own individual and team skills.
We knew the Blues had a lot of fire power but collectively if we trusted our skills and systems that we had practiced all week we could pressure them into mistakes and therefore control much of the momentum throughout the game.
Was there a psychological factor at play considering we hadn’t won in NZ before?
For me, personally, no.
Like most players in the team at the time we relished the opportunity to go and play on NZ soil and push for the win.
What was the turning point in the match?
The Turning point of the game would’ve been the try with 2 minutes to go in the first half with Jack Maddocks & Colby Fainga’a combining to send Haylett-Petty over the line and then the try scored off the start of the second half where the forwards gave the backs a good platform to strike from where Marika regathered a well-executed kick from Haylett-Petty to send Billy Meakes over the line for his double.
Who was your man of the match and why?
Gussy (Angus Cottrell) he had a big physical game forcing important turnovers at the breakdown.
What do you recall from the celebrations post game?
For me personally I spent post-match at my brother’s place in Auckland spending time with family who had travelled to the game.
It was the first time I got to play against my younger brother at Super Rugby level so a pretty special game to play in front of my mum and family.