Blues count the cost of impressive victory over Moana Pasifika

David Skippers
Blues huddle Super Rugby Pacific 2024 - Alamy.jpg

The Blues are in fine form in Super Rugby Pacific.

Despite cruising to a 47-8 victory against Moana Pasifika in Auckland on Saturday, the Blues are set to face the Western Force in their next match without the services of three key first choice players.

The match against Moana proved costly for Vern Cotter’s charges as captain Patrick Tuipulotu and utility back Bryce Heem both suffered head knocks while star fly-half Stephen Perofeta was also forced off the field with a shoulder injury.

Trio unlikely to face the Force

With the match against against the Force set to take place at Eden Park on Friday, Cotter revealed that the aforementioned trio are unlikely to feature for the Blues, who are currently in second position on the Super Rugby Pacific table.

“If you’re talking negatives from the game, it’s injuries,” Cotter told Stuff. “Paddy, Bryce and Stephen as well. Those head knocks… they didn’t pass their protocols.

“It looks like we will be digging deep into our stocks for the coming weekend.”

Despite those setbacks, the men from Auckland will fancy their chances against the Force, who are propping up the table after losing against the Fijian Drua in Lautoka on Saturday.

As the scoreline suggests, the Blues delivered an excellent performance against Moana as they outscored their opponents by seven tries to one with All Blacks flyer Mark Tele’a leading the way with a deserved hat-trick.

Apart from Tele’a, there were several other players who caught the eye with superb individual performances and Cotter was particularly impressed by Heem’s display at inside centre before he left the field in the 55th minute.

“I was just saying he wasn’t doing much, then he runs right through the middle of the team and scores between the posts, and puts good things on top of good things. He’s great,” said Cotter.

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Meanwhile, All Blacks number eight Hoskins Sotutu also starred with a strong showing up front before showing off his versatility by continuing with the good work when moving to midfield after Heem’s departure.

“Not many players go from number eight to midfield and not get breached,” added Cotter. “He didn’t look out of place. He got a turnover and set up a try. Outstanding.

“It’s good the boys were able to adapt and work around those scenarios because we’re going to have to work around some more next week.”

Cotter was happy with his team’s performance as they came back strongly to score several long-range tries after a slow start to proceedings.

‘Good attitude’ from the Blues

“There was good attitude in our carry and line-breaks that followed and at the end I was pleased with some of the link play,” he said.

“They got into us at the breakdown, and got a couple of turnovers. Sometimes we were just too slow getting there. There are things we will need to improve next week against the Force because they’re very active around the breakdown as well.”

The 62-year-old was delighted with the way his players have expressed themselves in the wider channels throughout the campaign.

“Nothing changes around the game – you’ve got to create space and you’ve got to see space,” said Cotter. “Some of these players are very good if you put them in space.

“Our counter philosophy has been pretty similar all the way through – we’re just getting better at connecting with time spent together.

“Next week will be a different game against different opposition, and we can’t afford to be surprised by what they bring.”

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