BLUES 56 REBELS 18
Feet need to be kept firmly on the ground and thoughts of a Blues' revival put on hold for now for, but it will be hard after the Blues opened their campaign with a thumping Super Rugby win.
And it really was a thumping. The Blues were better across the park. They had a relentless desire to attack, ferocity in their defence and while they were adventurous, they never over did it.
It was a performance that had a touch of maturity about it. It was a performance that had a bit of everything about it. There was quality defending, excellent competing at the breakdown, clinical execution, individual brilliance, a yellow card for Rene Ranger in record time and a hat-trick from the night's star attraction, Rieko Ioane.
He's hardly a top secret or given that he's won two All Blacks caps already, but just how good he could be is an unknown.
Sensationally good is the impression he gave in Melbourne. He made plenty happen with and without the ball.
His pace and instincts saw him pluck an easy intercept try before the break and then he gave a taste of his power to carve through the Rebels, bounce out of a few tackles, keep his feet and pretty much win the game early in the second half.
It was his contribution that both settled and sparked the Blues - let them see they were the better team. That they had more strike power, more options to utilise and that if they could stay calm when in possession, the game would open for them.
If there was one particular departure from last year it was the way the Blues continued to kick high and contest in the air for the first 40 minutes. This hasn't been weapon of theirs in the past but Ihaia West became increasingly confident it was working so didn't see the need to give up on a good thing.
The Blues don't have a reputation as holding much of a kicking pedigree or indeed the patience to persevere with the boot. That they were able to curb their natural instincts to run as a default option is perhaps a sign they are going to be a different tactical beast this season - willing to embrace diversity and spring the odd surprise with the way they go about things.
They used the boot to win territory and possession while undermining the confidence of the Rebels and then they switched to ball in hand attack after they had inflicted the initial damage.
It was smart rugby: measured, considered and what impressed most was the way the Blues held their shape and discipline late into the game after they had built a healthy lead.
The Blues, given their recent away record, would have been just to have come home with the win.
They did so much more than simply win, however. They scored a record number of points in Australia and annihilated the Rebels the way only good teams can.
But the excitement will have to wait - one game in is not the time to be getting carried away.
Blues 56 (P. Manu, M. Duffie, R.Ioane (3), A. Pulu, M. Nanai tries; I. West 6cons, 2 pens; P. Francis pen)
Rebels 18 (N. Stirzaker, J. Garden-Bachop tries; J. Garden-Bachop con; R. Hodge 2 pens)