Blues' happy with statement performance over Rebels

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Disappointing efforts in Australia against the Drua and Force demanded that, at home, they put in a scene-setting performance ahead of their games with the Reds and Brumbies.

 

Centre Rieko Ioane, who scored a hat-trick of tries, said, "It was important we made a statement to give us that confidence and a launchpad into the Reds next week.

 

"The majority of the boys are locked in. We know how close we went last year to the New Zealand domestic final, only to miss out on the last couple of games, and we know how crucial home field advantage is," he said.

 

Although 0-14 down after only a few minutes of play, the Blues quickly assumed control and featured in a breakout performance that has been long hinted at but never achieved.

 

"Our group, naturally, is a team that likes to play those sorts of games. It's what's in our DNA.

 

 

"We haven't had one of those [in 2022]…they've been tough wins, gritty wins, but to finally get an open, running game like that the lungs are battling, especially in that first half but happy to get over the line," he said.

 

There were game-breakers across the team, and when they clicked, it was something special, he said.

 

"Seeing our forwards run like backs and some of our backs running like forwards was awesome.

 

"As backs, we know if our forwards don't fire, we don't have that platform to strike off.

 

"We have players in the backs who can break the game open, but first and foremost, we need that front-foot ball, and our forwards are providing that.

 

"It's not just those tough carries. We've got props and locks offloading, and to see the big boys playing so fluently, we're happy as backs. We're getting more tries and saving our energy so big ups to our forwards – this whole year, they've really carried our backline," he said.

 

On the back of the performance, coach Leon MacDonald was most delighted with the discipline shown in the game. That was after the way the side buttoned off after getting leads in recent games.

 

"I thought this was a much more complete performance, both sides of the ball, and I know we conceded a couple of tries but a lot of the defensive play in the second half when they had nothing to lose and they chucked a lot at us we withstood [them] and our penalty count was in single digits. That was a big step up from where we've been as well," he said.

 

MacDonald said some of the tries were outstanding, but he was happier with the selflessness involved because the team was first in everyone's minds.

 

"That flair that we have naturally got, only comes when we are working hard for each other," he said.

 

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