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Patrick Tuipulotu reveals game plan for Brumbies made Blues 'nervous'

By Ned Lester
Blues coach Vern Cotter. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

The Blues dispatched the 3rd-place Brumbies at Eden Park over the weekend with a historic winning margin of 46-7, leading head coach Vern Cotter to praise his team’s adaptability.

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The Auckland team have been doubling down on their hard-hitting phase play game plan in 2024, utilising dominant ball carriers like Akira Ioane and Hoskins Sotutu to get over the gain line.

Against the Brumbies, another forward-centric team, Cotter issued a challenge to his side to beat the Australian heavyweights at their own game.

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“It’s a little bit different and about being able to adapt to each situation, each time and prepare well,” Cotter said following the win.

“We surprised them, and we got through a yellow card without too much damage to us around that.

“We had to deal with that, and the guys did well. They kept composed and under pressure, but they managed to get out. And when Taufa (Funaki) came back, we piled pressure on them by being reasonably direct and purposeful about our carries and what we were doing.

“The team was together, connected, and that was a positive thing. There was no stress around what we were doing.”

The attitude of the team was highlighted on the defensive end, where the Blues held out multiple brumbies advancements inside their 22, finishing the game with a tackle completion rate of 94 per cent.

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“We knew they were a capable team with the ball in hand, and they were well-balanced and varied. They’re a smart team, but the boys dug in and managed to keep them out until later in the game.

“They were up for it, and when you’re up, and together, you generally get a good result.”

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu found the win especially satisfying given his experience against a tough Brumbies forward pack, especially at lineout time.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It was part of the game plan (to take them on with driving mauls), which made us nervous throughout our preparation. When that happens, we get on the edge of our seats, prepare genuinely and bone deep.

“So, to get it rolling, and to get over the line, especially, that speaks to the work we’ve done through the season because we’ve gotten so close so often.

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“Against a good Brumbies team who pride themselves on their set piece, we’ve got to be happy with that.”

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The dominance in the contact area was hugely promising for the team, who refused to surrender their place at second on the Super Rugby Pacific table in the win.

“We went direct and did what we like to do, and just carry and clean. There were times where they challenged our breakdown and made a mess of it for us, so that’s a work-on for us next week.”

The effort made an impression on their opposition, who retained their place at third on the competition table despite the loss.

“The Blues carried exceptionally well, hit the gain line and got over it quite easily,” Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said. “Their maul was dominant in the second half.

“There weren’t a lot of things that went right for us. There’s plenty of things we can talk about, but realistically, we lost the physical battle at 7-0 down.”

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Abe 2 hours ago
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Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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Turlough 6 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

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