Blues continue quest for finals berth in Brisbane

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The Reds demolished the Chiefs in a powerful display to become the only Australian side to claim a win in the competition so far.

 

Blues coach Leon MacDonald, a former teammate at the Crusaders of Reds coach Brad Thorn, knows what to expect.

 

"They play with a lot of heart. They're the [Australian] champs, and when they get it right they're dangerous," he said.

 

Keeping the team fresh four weeks into the competition was a challenge. The Blues had found some cohesion between backs and forwards, and it was important to try and maintain that while also bringing some fresh energy into the side.

 

MacDonald said he had been nervous before the 38-10 win over the Brumbies on Saturday, but it had been a good performance.

 

"The Brumbies are a good team but we held them off well," he said.

 

MacDonald was delighted with the impact halfback Finlay Christie, who scored an outstanding try in the win, is achieving consistently with the side.

 

 

"He's been getting better every week. It was a slow start [to the season], with a neck injury that affected his pass. Now that's behind him well and truly, and he's full of confidence. He's busy, his speed to the breakdown is exceptional, and generally, his decision-making is good," MacDonald said.

 

Christie was a hard worker, and it was good to see him get the reward for his diligence during the week preparing for games. He had put in a lot of hard work over four or five years and had established himself as a quality halfback, MacDonald said.

 

Flanker Dalton Papalii had marked his return from injury with another outstanding performance. He tackled accurately and was a continuing presence at the breakdown, where he had again made some timely turnovers.

 

He had been enjoying an outstanding season.

 

"He makes the big plays, he's always around the ball, his defensive work is outstanding. He leads a bit of the passion in the team. When he's on the grass we have a lot more belief," he said.

 

"Our defence was a step up from last week. I thought we got off the line well and created a lot of pressure there. We had some dominance at the scrum, although our lineout probably wasn't as sharp as it was last week.

 

"I feel like we're heading in the right direction. To score that try just before halftime gave us that little boost of confidence that we needed to keep persevering. In the second half, we were able to score some good tries and capitalise.

 

"Some of our carry and cleanout work was exceptional, some of the better work of the year, and we were able to finish off in the backs," he said.

 

"There was a good sense of control. The game drivers did a good job managing where we played the game and putting the ball in the right parts of the field.

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