Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Super Rugby: Blues want to prove last thrashing was no fluke

It will be a last Blues hurrah for lock Josh Bekhuis. Photo / Getty
It will be a last Blues hurrah for lock Josh Bekhuis. Photo / Getty

There is an end-of-term feel about the Blues this week.

Their farewell awards dinner was held on Monday, with skipper James Parsons, lock Josh Bekhuis and midfielder Piers Francis major beneficiaries, but they are determined to finish on the right note against the Waratahs at Eden Park tomorrow. School's not out quite yet.

They want to prove a couple of things against a team with a slim chance of making the playoffs - that their 40-15 thrashing of the Brumbies was no fluke and that they are capable of putting in consistently high-quality performances.

If, in their last match of the season, they can harness the excitement from their six-try demolition of the top-ranked Australian team, and align it with similar discipline and accuracy, they should make life very difficult for the Waratahs, whose 28-17 defeat to the Hurricanes last weekend dented their playoff ambitions.

"Our major focus is Friday night," coach Tana Umaga said. "For us the next thing is consistency, that's what good sides have, they're able to back up their performances week after week."

Umaga isn't ready to reflect publicly on his first season in Super Rugby yet. That will come after the game. But another win, no matter how it is achieved, will make it a success. Now on seven wins for the season, one more would put last year's woeful haul of three wins in true perspective.

A big boost to the team is the potential naming on the reserves bench of prop Charlie Faumuina and midfielder George Moala, both injured in the final test against Wales in Dunedin last month but available should they come through training with no trouble from their respective knee and elbow injuries.

If passed fit the pair are likely to come on in the second half, adding impetus and mobility to a side already playing with plenty of both.

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It will be a last Blues hurrah for lock Bekhuis, named as the coaches' player of the year on Monday, and he will be eager to carry on his standout season, along with hooker Parsons, named as the team's most important player, and Francis, named rookie of the year.

All three have been at the forefront of a steady team improvement under Umaga, who is likely to have watched closely how the Hurricanes went about dismantling the Waratahs last weekend. The Sydneysiders, coached by Kiwi Daryl Gibson, are a big, robust team who can be rattled.

"Discipline is important to us," Umaga said. "We are a side who give away a few penalties. I think that's over-eagerness ... sometimes we get too far ahead of ourselves. We know what the Waratahs bring. They're a desperate side at the moment, they need to play well and get a result for their own season to keep tracking forward."

There's no such pressure on the Blues. They just want to keep having fun.

- NZ Herald

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