It took the Blues some time to break down the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday night, but once they did, they took full advantage.
The Blues took five points from their match against the Rebels, with the 50-3 scoreline telling a misleading tale.
The Rebels were able to hang with the Blues through the first half, limiting them to four penalty goals before Blues flanker Tom Robinson scored the opening try on the stroke of halftime.
But on the platform laid by their set piece, the Blues kicked on with the job — running in five unanswered tries in the second half. The Blues got on top of the Rebels at the scrum, and their plays from lineout drives were run well. No 8 Hoskins Sotutu and reserve loose forward Akira Ioane scored doubles from close-range efforts as a result.
"There were a couple of little fluctuations with some interpretations," Blues forwards coach Tom Coventry said. "The scrum is different over here, and [referee Brendon Pickerill], being involved in New Zealand, would have noted there was a bit of a difference, but I thought our scrum dominance was pretty evident towards the end.
"It helped having Nepo [Laulala] and Ofa [Tuungafasi] coming off the bench when Marcel [Renata] and Kurt [Eklund] and Karl [Tu'inukuafe] had done a good job in the first spell. It was a big part to play, and it was pretty demoralising for them at the end, I suppose.
"They were struggling to exert any pressure in that area and it just flowed through into our game.
"It's good for the big boys to get a bit of confidence in the new competition as well, considering we probably weren't as good in that area as we needed to be in the last comp."
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After the disappointment of missing out on a spot in the Super Rugby Aotearoa final, the Blues' win over the Rebels sees them start the season at the top of the table — ahead of the Highlanders on points differential.
Through the opening round of the competition, New Zealand teams won all five fixtures, but Coventry was cautious of the narrative that this weekend's results had created as the Blues turn their attention to their match against the Waratahs in Auckland on Saturday.
"I know everyone was talking about the fact the Kiwi teams were on top for this round but there were a couple of close scores and that's good.
"Some of the teams that probably weren't up to speed in the first round will get better for it.
"I think that will happen as you come to terms with the competition and the strengths and weaknesses of each other. That'll work itself out.
"There are some proud franchises over here that would like to be better for round two. I expect they'll grow and come to terms with just how tough this competition is."