Blues well up for huge clash with Brumbies in Canberra

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After putting the Reds away 53-26 at Eden Park on Saturday, Blues coach Leon MacDonald said there was plenty to occupy Blues' minds ahead of the game.


"We don't want to lose momentum. It's important we keep building, we don't want to go backwards. We want a better performance next week, we want to keep getting better each week," he said.


With their last round-robin game against the Waratahs in Sydney, the Blues will return home between games to ensure the best possible preparation across their squad – something that would not be possible if they stayed in Australia.


First five-eighths Beauden Barrett said the side were well aware their last two games away had not been as good as they like, and they wanted to have the correct preparation before travelling to show they could do well away against the Brumbies, the top Australian team.


MacDonald said of the win over the Reds, "There was some good stuff in there. A five-pointer was critical for us as we get into the pointy end of the season. Some of our attack was superb, I thought we defended well, but penalties were costing us a little bit.


"We won't be happy with some of the defensive work on our tryline, and our discipline and decision-making at the breakdown. A lot of the time we were giving away penalties was through keenness and eagerness to do well for the team. We probably need to be a little smarter there," he said.


He felt the combination of halfback Finlay Christie, first five-eighths Barrett, and fullback Stephen Perofeta was steering the tactical game well.



There was balance in their efforts to go wide, or through the middle, while their kicks in behind to find space was good.


"Watching Beauden Barrett chasing through grubbers is a beautiful thing," he said.


Barrett said he enjoys playing with Perofeta. They connect well off the field and see the game similarly.


"I like his composure and the way he reads the game and his skills. We understand our importance in leading the boys around the park and we have good alignment when it comes to that.


"I've seen huge growth in Stevie in the way he can lead a team. He's grown with his voice and confidence, and it's about giving him all the opportunities we can because he's playing so well," he said.


MacDonald was delighted with second five-eighths Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's development. He was cleaning out well, his detail was good, and he communicated. He brought energy to the side and had an attacking mindset that had proven contagious.


"He's giving the guys inside him, the nines and 10s, the confidence to let the ball go, and he's not easy to tackle, he's got good feet, he fights hard in the tackle and his work rate is enormous," he said.


Barrett said he enjoyed seeing Tuivasa-Sheck in space.


"Giving him the ball with time and space is what he needs. Around the game he's growing each week. He adds a lot in terms of his leadership style, and the way he prepares, so he's only going to get better too," he said.


Barrett said he also enjoyed playing outside Christie.


"He's a good lad, a real character in this team. We're all aware of what he can do with the ball, and his tenacity off the ball," he said.


They know the speed he can play at, and if the side can deliver that quick, clean breakdown ball for him, he can be dangerous, he said.


MacDonald said Bryce Heem was quick to settle after coming on for the injured Rieko Ioane at centre.


"His physicality is good, he's a big body but he uses it well and took too tries early and we're really fortunate to have him sitting there as an option."



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