Blues go 'back to basics' for rout
PRE-SEASON ACTION: The Blues made a strong statement when the ran riot against the Chiefs, winning 43-10 in Kaikohe on Saturday.
Wing Caleb Clarke scored a hat-trick in the seven-tries-to-two rout.
“We’ve been working on all aspects of the game, but to see the basics done well was the most pleasing,” Blues head coach Leon MacDonald told the New Zealand Herald.
“Tom Coventry has worked really hard with the forward pack around the set piece and I thought that it worked really well.”
MacDonald credited assistant coach Tana Umaga for the Blues’ defensive performance, in a game where the fitness of both squads was tested in uncomfortable, muggy conditions.
While their form with ball in hand was hard to fault, MacDonald acknowledged the team had a tough match-up against the Hurricanes in their second pre-season game before they took on the Crusaders in round one of the formal competition.
“[The Hurricanes] are obviously a very strong team and they’ll be tough for us, but as long as we keep moving forward with the same attitude, it’ll be one to look forward to.”
The Blues trumped the visitors in nearly every facet of the game.
The Auckland-based side outstripped the Chiefs in attack and defence, which contributed to such a heavy defeat for the visitors.
“It feels like we played the way we’ve been training,” MacDonald told Stuff after the hit-out.
“Your anxieties leading into these sort of games are around walking up and nothing comes to fruition.
“That’s the biggest relief for the coaching group, and then we can keep fine-tunning and growing it.
“We were also relieved in these games we walked off without an injury, and that is also like gold.”
Chiefs coach Colin Cooper said his side wasted most of their opportunities with ball in hand, and struggled to compete with the physicality of the Blues players.
“We had a lot of young guys out there trying it at this level, but I thought the Blues were more physical around the collision area which is something we need to work on.”
While he would look at improving all aspects of his side’s performance, Cooper said stringing phases together would be the focus in the days leading up to their pre-season clash with the Reds in Brisbane.
Cooper remained optimistic about the Chiefs’ position going into the season and was glad he was able to give his younger players an opportunity to play in what would have been a foreign area for most of his team.
“It’s great for rugby to get into the regions and showcase what they are, so it’s good for the Blues to have a game up here.”
For the Blues:
Tries: Clarke 3, Parsons, Nanai, Aoake, Talea
Cons: Plummer 2, Black 2
For the Chiefs
Tries: Leger, Debreczeni
Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Ataata Moeakiola, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Orbyn Leger, 11 Tyler Campbell, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Brad Webber, 8 Taleni Seu, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Pita Gus Sowakula, 5 Michael Allardice, 4 Laghlan McWhannell, 3 Sosefo Kautai, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Atu Moli.
Replacements – from: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Tevita Mafileo, Jeff Thwaites, Tyler Ardron, Mitchell Brown, Jack Stratton, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Alex Nankivell, Ross Wright, Tupou Vaai, Sekope Moli, Mitchell Jacobson, Jesse Parete, Bailyn Sullivan, Malo Tuitama.
Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Matt Matich, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Josh Goodhue, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements – from: Leni Apisai, Lua Li, Matt Moulds, Marcel Renata, James Tucker, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Adrian Choat, Hoskins Sotutu, Jack Grooby, Brad McNaughton, Mark Telea, Tanielu Tele’a, Michael Collins, Tomas Aoake , Mike Tamoaieta, Otere Black.
Referee: Glen Jackson
Sources: NZ Hereland & Stuff
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) February 2, 2019