Plenty of positives for both the Blues and Moana Pasifika

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Blues coach Leon MacDonald said with only four days between the games, there wasn't a lot of time to make changes. But, for his side, it was a case of freshening up and ensuring they had the right mindset to look for opportunities they saw, and it would be the same for Moana Pasifika.


MacDonald said Moana Pasifika deserved their place in the competition. They rattled the Crusaders, were in their game at halftime against the Chiefs, and they had their win over the Hurricanes and performed well against the Blues.


"No one has been spared from Moana yet, they're a great team, and I know everyone is giving them respect. When they get their tails up, they are extremely hard to stop.


"They've imported an awesome flavour, their own style and I know their culture is strong," he said.


Hooker Ricky Riccitelli, who scored two tries in the win, said the results Moana Pasifika had achieved, and their ability to pressure teams, showed they belonged and would be a force in the competition.


"They're building and have got a brand of footy that is pretty exciting to watch, and they've got some athletes all over the park," he said.



MacDonald said: "We knew we were in a battle and there were some tense moments. A red card put us under more pressure."


A red card to prop Nepo Laulala after 57 minutes for making contact to the head of an opponent in a tackle was a potential blow at a vital part of the game.


"We were able to grab a couple of key moments," MacDonald said.


That included a turnover of an attempted Moana Pasifika lineout drive near the Blues line. That resulted in the Blues getting down the field and executing their own drive for a try to skipper Luke Romano.


"It was always going to be a close game. We prepared like that, and we got what we thought we would get. We didn't want to let them in through discipline and errors, and we did, which was disappointing.


"We'll have to learn a quick lesson because we're about to do it again in a couple of days," he said.

MacDonald said he was pleased with the efforts of No.8 Anton Segner and halfback Taufa Funaki. Others received a Super Rugby lesson about the intensity and accuracy needed.


Halfback Finlay Christie provided impact when introduced to provide some experience through the final stages, scoring the try that ensured the win.


"Some of his tidy up work around the back of the breakdown and decision-making was outstanding," MacDonald said.


"Steve [Perofeta] grew into the game and the more the game went on his skill execution was better. The more the game went on he timed his kicks better."


Riccitelli commented on the impact of the driving lineout maul that resulted in five tries, three to the Blues, in the game.


"We had some pretty dominant lineout drives in that first half, we try to play to our strengths. We back our lineout 'd' [defence] but we got a few things wrong there. Our execution was a little bit off. Moana are a good side, and they made us pay for it, so it was obvious good for us to nail those big moments," he said.


They knew in the second half Moana Pasifika would throw everything at them, and they had.


MacDonald said Romano's experience had been important for the side.


"We had a plan to be clinical in the second half but when you kick the ball out on the full you get what you deserve when you give away easy 'ins' like we did," he said.


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