Vern Cotter Hails Blues' Defensive Grit

Vern Cotter v2

Coach Vern Cotter said they needed to be able to control games, and with teams like the Brumbies, it was only possible to get that control with good defence, set piece and carry and clean.

Despite the size of the 50-3 win, Cotter said he was most pleased with the defensive effort.

"We gave them entries into our 22, which we don't like doing, but we didn't give them tries. I saw some real character close to our line, and we were determined not to let them get over and get the five points.

"The boys dug deep there, and that's creating good habits around that sort of defence. When you have [good] habits you get pride and that is starting to grow within the team."

They had been working on their defence, especially when exposed around their ruck in losing to the Hurricanes. They didn't enjoy that and worked on improving.

"Generally, if you work on something you'll get better at it. It doesn't just happen by imagining it's going to happen. You get reward for the effort."

They expected the kicking assault from the Force, setting a trap and hoping the Blues would get over-confident.

"We knew that was the trap they were setting for us. We lost our long-kicking game with Zarn [Sullivan] and Stephen [Perofeta] out, so we knew we wouldn't get the same length and would have to defend. It took us a while to get the counter-attack opportunities, but when we got them, we scored a couple of tries from them.

"The guys showed good humility around that. They went back to the basics, to the scrum and the lineout drive, stayed patient, and just did simple things, not trying to open the game up early. That's how the Force beat the Reds.

"It was pleasing that after a dominant first half that the boys put the foot on the throat even more in the second half and kept that intensity going as opposed to tired bodies falling away late in the game."

Getting game times for players with few opportunities during the season was an essential part of the win.

Cotter said they had contributed to the side's preparation during the week, knowing they would have a role to play at some stage and had done a good job.

"Corey [Evans] came in for a second start, and in his preferred position at second five-eighths, Lucas [Cashmore] came on at first five and got the ball, which was a good start for him.

"Harry [Plummer] who took the place of Stephen Perofeta, did a great job and I think Dalts [Dalton Papali'i] led well all through the short week. It's good to have that leadership quality around the team to help those young guys as well."

Papali'i said they played according to their plan, which was pleasing because knowing they had the bye week after could sometimes be distracting.

"We held the boys accountable, and it showed. There are a few things to work on, but we can be proud.

"We knew their strength was their set piece, so we put a massive onus on our forwards, especially our props and hooker, to attack them at the scrum.

"And hats off to those boys, we got massive gains out of that scrum, and even the lineout as that's a strength of theirs and we did well in that area as well."


View all