There is pride and relief among the Blues players and their coach Tana Umaga that they have maintained New Zealand's Super Rugby winning streak over Australia.
It was done the hard way and that in itself has pleased Umaga. Up 24-14 and looking comfortable in the second half at Sydney's Brookvale Oval, a converted Michael Hooper try with 10 minutes remaining put the Blues on red alert for the final, anxious, moments before they heard the final whistle on a precious 24-21 victory, only their third of the season.
"It's huge for us," Umaga said this morning. "We've been through some struggles recently – they're well documented.
"We needed some positive outcomes for the amount of work we've put in. We knew coming over here that the Tahs, with the way they've been playing, were targeting us. We just wanted to put a bit of pride back in our performances and our club."
They have done that, and with outside back Melani Nanai and midfielder Sonny Bill Williams potentially returning for next Friday's match against the Hurricanes at Eden Park, this coming week should have a very different vibe.
The Blues have lost all four games at home this season but this victory, after they led 18-14 at halftime, will give them some dearly-needed confidence.
The alternative would have been ugly and would have increased the scrutiny on Umaga and the under-performing franchise. The Kiwi winning streak over their Aussie counterparts now stands at an extraordinary 38 matches, but Umaga was wary about saying when or if it would end.
"I'm not going to stay anything around that," he said. "We've still got a very good Rebels team to come and a Reds team that is playing well… like anything, these streaks are made to be broken, it's just when [not if]. The more you make of it the more it plays on your psyche."
It was on lock Patrick Tuipulotu's mind beforehand. Asked about his feelings at the finish, he said this morning: "A sense of relief. For me, when I heard of that streak that pretty much fired me up in the days leading up to it. I'm happy for the guys who put in the work."
Tuipulotu was hindered during the week by an illness which kept him out of last weekend's defeat to the Jaguares but his workrate was impressive and so was flanker Jerome Kaino's after his return from four weeks out with a hamstring injury. Both men played the full 80 minutes and tackled themselves to a standstill.
The Blues had heroes all across the park throughout but in particular those final, nerve-wracking, 10 minutes. Asked about his anxiety levels, Umaga said: "They're usually high anyway, so I'm getting used to managing it."
The backline defence was impressive against an opposition attack that included Wallabies first-five Bernard Foley and returning fullback Israel Folau, who looked to be about to score the winning try for the home side after 20 phases at the end only to see Kurtley Beale's cross-kick sail over his head into touch.
Debutant Caleb Clarke on the wing, centre Orbyn Leger and second-five Rieko Ioane were particular standouts in nullifying the threats in the opposition.
Ioane, who scored the Blues' opening try, was again instrumental, as was his No8 brother Akira. Without them the Blues really would be in trouble.
"It's been tough for those two young men – they've played every minute of every game, pretty much," Umaga said. "There is a lot of expectation on them as well but yet both on and off the field … they have contributed hugely to this group.
"They don't back down from anything, which builds confidence for our players. They lead those young ones and also are very demanding of themselves."
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