BLUES 24 FORCE 15

It's not really been the done thing to be fussy about the Blues when they win. Take the points, be thankful for them and move on has been the way of the recent past.

But this team has significantly more potential than those of the last few years and as such, it is time to be more demanding and picky.

The Blues have won their last two games and yet not impressed. Not really. In neither did they manage an 80-minute effort that was full of the sort of rugby that has them marked as potential title winners or even playoff contenders.

They are labouring their way to victory: playing a lot of so-so, mistake-riddled rugby that doesn't set the pulse racing.

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Against the Force, just as happened the week before against the Bulls, they had their moments. Most of them were sparked by individual brilliance. Most of their best rugby was down to opportunism and the speed, skill and alertness of the athletes they possess.

George Moala sparked them at times, while in the second half, they benefited greatly from the pace and power of the Ioane brothers who both made an impact off the bench.

It's no bad thing having gamebreakers, but it's not a sure bet to keep them at the right end of the table. They need more cohesion as a unit - more flow and certainty in the core areas of winning the ball and going forward with it. That much will hit home when they have to start playing better teams again.

It's easy enough to get away with sloppy rugby against the likes of the Bulls and Force, but it won't net the Blues wins against the better Australian sides and certainly not against New Zealand opposition.

It was criminal the way they so meekly surrendered their bonus point in the last few minutes by letting the Force go the length of the field. Casualness like that will cost them dearly.

So there is much still to work on because just like last week, the Blues only got the job done after a long and frankly tedious struggle. The ruthlessness that they had hoped to bring to the start of the contest was late in turning up, if indeed it ever did.

And that's pretty much the best way to sum up why the Blues aren't inducing a sense of excitement of confidence. They haven't found that killer touch.

Nearly every aspect of their game was missing accuracy and urgency. There was a lack of direction and it beset them at lineout, in the tackled area and in the loose. Everywhere.

In fairness to the Force, they played their part well. They pushed the limits with the offside line to put their defensive line on top of the Blues and force them into making decisions under pressure.

It was smart play. The Blues, to a man, didn't seem to like the challenge that was being thrown down.

Augustine Pulu was too often caught in two minds. That often left Piers Francis with a wall of yellow coming at him and while he tried manfully to make things happen, twice he threw the ball directly to the opposition and was lucky they didn't go the distance after the intercept.

Blues 24 (A. Ioane, M. Duffie, R. Ioane, M. Collins tries; P. Francis con; I. West con)
Force 15 (R. Arnold, D. Haylett-Petty tries; J. Lance pen, con)
Halftime: 12-8