MacDonald rates Hamilton win as his best with the Blues

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Technically, the Blues finished round eight sharing second with the Crusaders, four points behind the Brumbies, who have completed their Australian leg. However, the Blues are in front on points differential.

Coach Leon MacDonald felt the win over the Chiefs was the Blues' best during his time with the side, heading off last season's Trans-Tasman final and a big win over the Stormers in South Africa.

The difference was the quality of opposition the Chiefs provided while the Blues achieved the win on the back of the three games played in a week, seven days earlier.

The energy the side demonstrated made him proud, he said.

"It shows us where we can get to and now the challenge is to try and do that every week," he said.

First five-eighths Beauden Barrett's display on his return was outstanding.

"I thought his ability to control field position, especially when we were down to 13, he was smart, he put the ball in the corners, he stuck the ball in the air, and he kept the ball in front of our forwards, and it meant they had the energy to keep playing," he said.

All of the team played well, he said. The leadership, and game sense, had been outstanding.

But as a former Crusader, he knew next weekend's contest in Christchurch would ensure the home team had a welcoming reception assured for them at Orangetheory Stadium.

"It's a great opportunity to see where we're really at. The Crusaders in Christchurch is about as good as it gets in world rugby, and it's going to be a huge challenge," he said.

Captain Dalton Papalii said when reduced to 13, through yellow cards, the intent had not diminished.

"When boys were making tackles, they were getting back up on their feet and straight into line, so we didn't feel stressed out there.

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