Blues hammer Western Force as Simon Cron’s Achilles heel is shown up again

Blues hammer Western Force as Simon Cron's Achilles heel is shown up again

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The Western Force travelled to Eden Park looking to snap a 14-year losing streak against the Blues. It didn’t take long for their hopes to blow up in smoke.

Vern Cotter’s men had four tries at half-time and finished their Friday evening’s work with eight in total to win 50-3 to join the Hurricanes on top spot of the Super Rugby standings on 27 points.

Making the victory all the more impressive was that it was without some of their star backs, including halves Finlay Christie and Stephen Perofeta, as well as one of the world’s most dangerous backs in Mark Telea.

But with Harry Plummer steering the ship Caleb Clarke, the Force were barely given a sniff as the Blues’ forward pack did a number on their Australian opponents.

“We knew the contact zone was going to be important to us, we just didn’t win enough of those,” acting Force skipper Nic White said.

“They’re a big side, everyone knows that, we tried to move them around. We probably didn’t do that enough.

“Sometimes you’ve got to fight fire with fire sometimes and we lost most the majority of the upfront battles, so it’s tough on the back foot.”

Taufa Funaki scored a double against the Force in the Blues’ big win at Eden Park on April 05, 2024, in Auckland. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Without Santiago Medrano, who was ruled out with a concussion, the Force copped a battering at the scrum.

The Blues’ set-piece dominance was on display early, as they called for scrum after scrum.

It led to the opening try to Ofa Tu’ungafasi, who scored in the 12th minute after the Blues started to drive the Force backward at the scrum.

In contrast, the Force, knowing their scrum was on roller-skates, opted to take three points in front of the sticks. It was their only points of the evening, as the Blues’ defence stood firm.

“We were in the right areas, it’s obviously difficult when your set-piece isn’t quite functioning and they were able to get territory off the back of that,” White said.

“It came down to a whole lot of power up front. Their big bodies just went straight through us.”

Acting Blues skipper Dalton Papalii was outstanding in the win, as he sent in his second-row teammate Laghlan McWhannell in to score after breaking through the line and offloading.

“I think it was just our consistency,” the openside flanker said was the most pleasing aspect of the win.

“We didn’t want to put a performance that we weren’t happy with ahead of the bye-week, so we put a lot of emphasis on ourselves and accountability throughout the week and I think that showed on the field.”

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