Blues win was reward for effort - Umaga
Saturday, March 10, 2018 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
Coach Tana Umaga said it had been a game where his most experienced players performed well in key moments while captain James Parsons added the impact of an inexperienced bench had also been impressive.
Umaga said there was immediate talk among the players after the win about remembering what lies ahead for them against the Stormers in Cape Town next week.
"But the way they performed tonight I think they need to enjoy these little wins, that's what we haven't done well in the past being too quick to focus on the next game instead of just living in the moment and enjoying the hard work they put out there and the result that they got," he said.
Umaga said the management had always known what was in the group and what was building and the work that they had done. The resilience and toughness was emerging that was needed to grind out tough games but that was up to the players.
"We've just been waiting for them to construct that and they did that in leaps and bounds tonight," he said.
The belief they had shown throughout the game and their faith in sticking to their plan had been pleasing.
They could take confidence from the win but they were aware they still needed to put in the work. They knew what it had taken for them to reach the stage they had with the win so now they had to build on that and get the consistency required in their preparation.
It wasn't a case of taking delight from any individual performances, it was a squad effort and they had to keep building, he said.
The travel issue after spending a day at Auckland airport after flight delays had not been a factor and the players had handled the potentially troubling situation well. The resilience they showed over the travel had been seen on the field in Johannesburg.
They had set a standard as a result of that and they needed to maintain that now.
"It's hard to pinpoint a lot of players, this was a whole 23 if not 27 in the group. We trained really well this week. When we named the side there were a few guys who missed out but they really helped out this group to get to where they needed to go.
"I just think everyone was doing their job, they knew their roles they had to play and they played them to the fullest," he said.
Hooker Parsons said they were ready for the Lions coming out strong, especially at altitude and the Blues attitude had been to stay in the moment.
He said they had enjoyed a lot of possession and they hadn't executed as well as they would have liked but they retained belief they could finally break them. He felt No.8 Akira Ioane's try just before halftime had swung some momentum their way and they took confidence from that.
"I thought our first 10 minutes after the break was great as well and while Bryn [Gatland] didn't get the [chance for] kicks we were still putting ourselves in position to score points. Things seemed to build from there and I thought the impact the bench brought was second to none.
"Guys that don't have a lot of experience at this level played their natural game and looked fantastic and brought us home," he said.
Now it was a case of making sure they sharpened their spears during the week to prepare for the Stormers and have the same hunger and want in Cape Town to similarly build on their disappointing defeat on their last visit there.
A player who knows his rugby history Parsons said it might not be his biggest win in a Blues jersey, he preferred last year's win over the British & Irish Lions, but there was so much history associated with Ellis Park that he would always remember this win.
But that was to be enjoyed in the future, the immediate goal was to replicate the week's build-up to secure another key performance next time out.
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