Pat Lam’s debut season with the Blues started in perfect fashion on Friday night as his team recorded an impressive 25-19 bonus point victory over the Western Force in Perth.
Trailing 14-8 following a disappointing first half performance, the Blues racked up 17 unanswered points in an inspired 20 minute spell to blow the Force off the park with a blistering attacking display.
James Rigby writes for the Blues website that with the Force boasting a strong winning record at Subiaco Oval it was always going to be a tough assignment first up for the Blues, and although the visitors dominated territory and possession they were unable to convert it to points as the Force scored twice early on.
An individual piece of brilliance by Matt Giteau set AJ Whalley up for the opening try, and when Drew Mitchell pounced on a loose pass to race the length of the field and score the home side built an unexpected lead midway through the opening stanza.
Aimless kicking and some misguided passes proved to be the Blues’ downfall as a number of opportunities went begging, but they clawed their way back late in the first half, Chris Lowrey hitting the line on an angle to catch two defenders napping as he rumbled over for a try on debut.
The Blues were a different outfit in the second half, reducing their kicking errors and producing a spectacular period of running rugby.
Blues veteran Justin Collins was the first to score on the end of a well executed backline move before lock Anthony Boric swooped on a bouncing ball to shrug off two defenders and race to the line for a try.
Taniela Moa provided a constant threat to the Force defence as he mixed up his distribution with clever sniping runs and deft kicks, and it was not long before he too added to the scoreboard after barging over from a quick tap five metres out.
The Force finally managed to hit back with a try of their own to leave the score poised at 25-19 with 10 minutes to go, but the Blues clung on to kick-start their campaign with a vital away win.
“I’m extremely proud of the boys, there was a lot of character shown,” Lam said.
“At half time we went into the changing room and the biggest thing for me was that we were down 14-8 and we knew that we let in a couple of soft tries and we probably hadn’t taken some of the opportunities that we had.
“But we talked about belief in the game plan and belief in each other and the really neat thing was Keven (Mealamu) and Gus (Justin) Collins made a big emphasis about the whole squad and it made a big difference.
“(In the second half) we managed to keep hold of possession a bit better, work some phases and apply some pressure and we scored some good tries.”
The victory may have come at a cost for the Blues however, with hard hitting centre Benson Stanley, captain Keven Mealamu and Taniela Moa all limping off during the match to add to the Blues’ growing
BLUES 25 ( Chris Lowrey, Justin Collins, Anthony Boric, Taniela Moa tries, Paul Williams 1 pen, Jimmy Gopperth 1 con)
FORCE 19 ( AJ Whalley, Drew Mitchell, Tom Hockings tries, Matt Giteau 2 con )Tweet