The Blues, who stepped up with an impressive second half on Saturday night, had too much firepower for a weakened Melbourne Rebels team, and they won again.
In the second half, the Blues scored 41 unanswered points to defeat the Rebels in Melbourne. In two rugby halves against the Rebels, the Blues demonstrated the value of execution.
The visitors had plenty of possession and field position in the first half of their 54-17 victory in Melbourne on Saturday night, but they occasionally failed to convert it into points.
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Instead, it was the home team who had the advantage at halftime thanks to some excellent counterattacking and set piece play.
Beauden Barrett, the playmaker, had some magical moments as he tried to get back into shape. One memorable grubber kick that he collected before kicking ahead for Mark Telea was one of those.
One of the nine tries the Blues scored against the Rebels in Melbourne
Barrett blended the good with the bad, missing six conversions (several from close to the posts), but he still had a significant impact on the team’s 54-17 victory in Melbourne, which keeps them in fifth place in Super Rugby Pacific.
On a night that held a lot of promise when they led at the interval, the Rebels lost both of their hookers, Alex Mafi and Jordan Uelese, to injury in the first half.
The Blues have hardly resembled the group that won 15 straight games to advance to last year’s inaugural Super Rugby Pacific final, which saw Scott Robertson’s Crusaders win yet another championship.
The Rebels concluded with 13 points as a result of prop Cabous Eloff’s late yellow card, which left them without any front rowers and forced them to lose another player. However, Leon MacDonald’s team was too classy and scored 41 unanswered points in the second half.
All Blacks Rieko Ioane and halfback Finlay Christie, as well as Barrett, participated in the second half got off to a better start thanks to latter’s spectacular try. That set the course for their assault.
Although Barrett’s missed conversions were beginning to appear worrisome because they only led by six points after 50 minutes, another fantastic play started by the No. 9 provided elusive wing Telea with space to slide through defenders and score.
They were irrelevant, though, as Ofa Tuungafasi, Zarn Sullivan, and skipper Dalton Papalii combined for nine tries for the Blues, including seven after the break. Barrett also picked out his captain with another accurate punt.
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Sam Darry and Ricky Riccitelli’s initial tries came from the Blues’ forwards pushing through the Rebels, but the referee Reuben Keane blowing up for the dreaded resets ruined their first-half scrum supremacy.
In fact, Carter Gordon’s breakaway and a fantastic set move from a Rebels scrum close to their own line set up Andrew Kellaway for his outstanding try.