Vern Cotter Confident yet cautious ahead of DHL Super Rugby Pacific final


Coach Vern Cotter said after their 34-20 win that he was 'really happy' with the win, especially with how the Blues started.

"They prepared well during the week, and you could feel the concern and tension you get around big games, so we started well because of it.

"Then we had a little period where we got into their 22 twice and didn't score and let the pressure off. They came back and they're a good team. We probably needed that to become better. You need to be challenged around those things. They are not going to happen easily all the time."

If a few penalties were taken out of their defensive effort, the outcome was pleasing, but they still need to be smarter and better around that. They are the things they will need to take to the final.

"I'm really happy. This group gets to go to a final and gets a crack at it. But we know that responsibility comes as soon as we're in on Monday. And we've got this Monday that we wanted, like everybody talkes about."

Cotter said the game was played in slippery conditions after the heavy rain earlier on Friday, which resulted in handling errors that prevented the continuity they wanted, but that was to be expected at the time of year.

Captain and flanker Dalton Papali'i said they were pleased to make a good start because if they could achieve that, it would translate into their performance throughout the game.

"We put the points on early, but we knew they were going to come back, and they did come back and stressed us a bit. Like Vern said, we probably needed that and we'll learn from for next week."

Cotter said the effort of locks Josh Beehre and Sam Darry in the absence of Patrick Tuipulotu was pleasing.

"Josh is 21 and Sam's 23, they helped us get that win. They were very good. Sam had been a couple of weeks out of the game, but you wouldn't really have noticed. He'll be better for next week."

Papali'i said the lessons from their final loss to the Crusaders in 2022 would be valuable in their preparation for Saturday.

Complacency had been an issue on that earlier occasion.

"I remember that year clearly. We lost our first game but then went on an unbeaten run of 15 games. We might have had it in the back of our minds that it would just happen.

"But, we've been reminded a couple of times this year, once against the 'Canes and then once against the Crusaders, that we can't leave anything unchecked. It's a good thing we've had those reminders this year."