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Timely confidence boost for the Blues

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Lynn McConnell     01 May 2017     Getty Images

Coach Tana Umaga said they had lost a few games in the final stages during the year so it was nice to have one go their way for a change on Sunday.

Winning, and taking a bonus point, was not something the Blues had done for some years in Canberra.

Umaga said he was pleased with the way the side closed the game out and it reflected the effort and commitment to what the side was trying to achieve. There was a slight flutter when ball was turned over just near the end but they had come back to counter that as well, and it demonstrated the resilience they had been trying to develop in their game.

Bryn Gatland's effort in stepping in at late notice after Piers Francis had to withdraw due to a wrist injury, continued the progress he had made on opportunities with the side ahead of their recent bye.

"Again, he took another opportunity and we're very happy with the way he performed today. The boys rallied around him and we wanted to make sure we gave him a quality ride from our forwards, and they did that," he said.

Umaga explained the use of Akira Ioane on the side of the scrum instead of No.8 where he had been named. Steven Luatua operated off the back of the scrum and Umaga said they could both play both positions and he left it to them to work that out by themselves.

The side were aware that their win raised the prospect of the lowest-placed New Zealand team finishing ahead of the highest Australian team, yet still missing out on the play-offs. But they knew what the anomalies of the competition meant and could only concentrate on getting better and making a strong effort to reach the play-offs.

"We've just got to control what we can control and that is playing well every week, trying to get our game going and compete in as many places as we can and hopefully we will get what we need," he said.

"We've put ourselves in this position so there is only ourselves who can get us out of it. If we need to keep chasing those bonus points then that's something we'll need to do."

He said another scan would be made of Francis' hand in Australia because while scans had been clear before they left New Zealand but he was still suffering pain. They were happy to continue using Billy Guyton as first five-eighths cover because he was familiar with all the side's plays, and he had been practising with the team in that role.

"We've lost a few close ones and it was good to win," he said.

The lineout maul had also been effective and was reward for the hard work the side was putting in.

No.8 Luatua said he was really happy with the side's mentality under the pressure applied by the Brumbies through the final stages, especially when they had conceded a penalty near the end.

"Our defence was going good the whole game so we just backed that and came away with the result so we're pretty stoked with that," he said.

Luatua said his decision to play at No.8 was down to the fact he had been there over the last few games and felt comfortable there.

He said it had been a pleasing effort by the Blues loose forwards at the breakdown where they had achieved a dominance through the game. They knew the Brumbies were strong in that area and had challenged themselves to perform.