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Force demolished by Blues pack who 'love rolling up their sleeves'

By Ned Lester
Akira Ioane of the Blues looks to offload. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The Blues are sitting pretty atop the Super Rugby Pacific standings thanks to superior points differential while the unbeaten Hurricanes enjoy a bye week.

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The Auckland team added a whopping 50 points to that season tally on Friday night as they opened round seven with a 50-3 thumping of the Western Force.

The win was the team’s sixth of the season and sees the side to the midway point of the campaign comfortably on track for at least a home quarter-final.

The positive results are in large part thanks to a forward pack that has been getting down to business in all facets of the game.

“I think our game plan’s pretty simple,” flanker Akira Ioane told Sky Sport’s Taylah Johnson following the win. “We’ve got good ball runners and boys who like to play, so just getting in behind them makes the backs look good out wide.

“The forwards love rolling up their sleeves. We love confrontation, that’s what we pride ourselves on and I think we did that well tonight.

“We’ll go away, get rejuvenated and come back even stronger for the second half of this comp.”

Ruck Speed

0-3 secs
58%
62%
3-6 secs
24%
22%
6+ secs
15%
11%
75
Rucks Won
76

Ioane’s back row partner and stand-in captain Dalton Papali’i said the team’s “consistency” was key in the win.

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“We came out here, we didn’t want to have the bye week in the back of our mind, we didn’t want to put a performance out there that we weren’t happy with,” he said.

“So, we put a lot of emphasis on ourselves and accountability throughout the week and I think that showed on the field; the boys were disciplined, the boys were working hard for each other and the boys were nailing their roles.”

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With plenty of injuries already in the season forcing changes to the forward pack and backline alike, Papali’i credited the veteran players for their influence in the environment and for helping the team through adversity.

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“I think it’s just buy-in. We have a lot of senior players here who work hard on and off the field and I think it’s contagious for any young player coming through and we’re all here to get better and work hard.

“Injuries are a part of the game, sadly, but when it happens it’s the next man up and it’s awesome to see young players coming through and really stamping their mark.”

Papali’i didn’t hesitate when claiming he was more pleased with the defensive effort to hold the Force to three points than he was of his side’s half-century tally.

“(It shows we’re) just working hard for each other. We try to pride ourselves on how defence wins championships at the end of the day and that’s all about attitude.

“You can have all the talent in the world, make breaks, get the offloads right and stuff but what comes down to a good defence is attitude and wanting to work hard.”

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