Blues know where they need to be after their bye round

GettyImages 1480780600

Coach Leon MacDonald said the second half mainly produced the sort of rugby the side wanted to play.

"We were doing a good job in the first half. We weren't scoring the points, but applying a lot of pressure. The message was to trust what we were doing. We felt we were starting to get dominance in, like, the scrum, so we said not to be afraid to go there a little more, which we did.

"I thought our carry and clean-out work was really good, and we had good territory because we kicked smart, and we were playing the right part of the field. But we made little errors. We dropped the ball.

"The first half looked like what our season has looked like – close but not quite right, and the second half felt quite good out there when we started getting some good tries and finishing off well.

Captain and flanker Dalton Papali'i said going into the bye week; they needed to put a good performance together.

"We owed it to ourselves, our season's been up and down and in the second half it opened up and that's the style of footie we want to play and carry it on through the rest of the season."

He said the Blues know how it felt to be troubled by injuries, as happened to the Rebels. They went through the same thing themselves earlier in the season.

With hooking issues and then a yellow card that reduced them to 13, the scrums went to golden oldies rules, which the Blues were stung by against the Crusaders.

"It's the curse of the game. You're always going to suffer injuries. We've suffered them. It's just the game now, it's so fast and physical, you don't know what you're going to get in a game."

MacDonald said it was easy to understand why the law was in place to stop teams from taking advantage of the laws, but when teams had three legitimate injuries, it was tough.

It was hard, and when it happened to the Blues, they weren't cheating, it was just the injuries in a position they suffered in that game.

"It's probably worth revisiting and saying, 'Is it achieving what they want from it and is it fair and reasonable?' but it is hard for me to know."

MacDonald said first five-eighths Beauden Barrett had come in for some harsh criticism during the week, but he had responded with a fantastic effort in Melbourne.

"He's a quality player and every player has moments when they're not at their best in any sport but I think in a sign of the champion that he is, he didn't flinch the whole week. I thought today he kicked well. It wasn't easy conditions out there, it was greasy, but we still had the confidence to play which was good to see as well."

MacDonald said the bye week is at a good time for the side with many players struggling with injuries. They had been working hard but not playing as well as they would like.

"We've been training really hard, we haven't been playing as well as we would like so we've had to turn the dial up at training and put some hard yards in just to make sure we finish this block on the right note to get the result we needed. The guys have earned a good rest and hopefully we can come back and take some of this momentum into the second half of the season because it's all to play for."


View all