Prospect of home quarterfinal motivates Blues

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Coach Leon MacDonald said after their 45-26 win over the Reds in Brisbane on Friday they would take confidence from their attacking and defensive efforts, but they needed to work on their discipline.

MacDonald said first five-eighths Beauden Barrett had stitches for a gash on his heel and could not put his boot back on while wing AJ Lam had rolled his ankle.

"Next week's game against the Hurricanes is a big one. We'll be jostling for position, and somebody will leapfrog someone else.

"That's a big one at home, and then we have another game at home against the Highlanders."

"We played well in the first half, too. We attacked well and created a lot, but a lack of patience kept us from getting the ball over the line.

"We were doing the right things, especially in the collision area, and keeping Fraser [McReight] off the ball, which is normally hard to do, but then leaked that try [scored by Reds prop Sef Fa'agase] just before halftime, which was disappointing.

"We knew we just needed to continue what we were doing, to be patient with that, and we did that well.

In a short turnaround week, they were pleased with some aspects, especially defensively, but in defending so much, they were unable to lift their attacking game.

"The onus this week was on trying to hold the ball, and build some phases and create some pressure instead of giving the ball back and having to defend. I thought we did that well."

MacDonald said that the efforts of halfback Sam Nock, fullback Zarn Sullivan and mid-fielders Harry Plummer and Bryce Heem had been central to the team's performance.

They showed courage in running the ball back from deep in defence and getting Sullivan and wings Mark Telea and AJ Lam space to play in was helpful to the effort.

"We're at our best when we get the ball into their hands. We let the ball go more and backed our skill, and our handling was pretty sharp.

"It was a big game for both teams and I thought we fronted physically, the way we needed to to be able to get the result."

Captain Patrick Tuipulotu said they knew with the Reds beating the Chiefs a week earlier, they would need to front up physically, and he didn't think there was a big gap between Australian and New Zealand teams, and the Reds bore that out.

'We knew coming off at halftime that we had to score first [in the second half], and we knew if we put ourselves in that position, we would have momentum, and that would carry on."

He was disappointed with the number of penalties conceded that kept the Reds in the game for an extended period.

Blues v Hurricanes: Saturday 27 May, 7.05pm, Eden Park. TICKETS.


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