The Blues Development team triumphed in an error ridden match against Tonga A, 40-3 on Friday night.
Played in near perfect conditions at Bell Park in Pakuranga, the Blues were guilty of committing a large number of basic handling errors which kept the score closer than it should have been.
Blues lock Liaki Moli lived up to his nickname with a monster of a performance. He used his power on both attack and defence and was rewarded with a try on full time.
While the Blues were dominant at the scrum, they would be disappointed at their inability to gain complete control of the match.
The Tongans scored their first and only points of the match in the opening minute, centre Otulea Fifita slotting a penalty from directly in front of the posts.
After that it was one-way traffic, the Blues scoring 12 points while Tonga’s hooker Soane Lakalaka was in the sin bin for a high tackle on Francis Saili.
With an extra man at the scrum the Blues secured a tight head five metres from the try line, and Viliami Fihaki was able to bowl over for the first try of the match.
Francis Saili ran powerfully throughout the match and took four defenders with him as he powered over to extend the lead to 18-3 midway through the first half.
The Blues forwards were tireless in defence, smothering any Tongan attempts to break the advantage line.
With the majority of possession going into half time, the Blues were unable to extend their lead, Michigan Lam missing two penalty attempts.
The Blues continued to dominate the score board after the break and the hard working forwards were rewarded with three of the four second half tries.
Locks Liaki Moli and Steven Luatua, and captain James Parsons all got their names on the score card, while replacement winger Pita Ah-Ki tip-toed down the side line for his five-pointer.
Blues Development captain James Parsons was ambivalent about the result; pleased to get the win but disappointed with the error rate.
“The players were excited, which is good, but I think that led to the errors and lack of accuracy.
“We should have put more points on the board tonight, we created the opportunities but didn’t finish them,” said Parsons.
Coach Jeff Wilson echoed Parsons comments, saying the pressure applied by Tonga lead to too many mistakes.
“It will be a learning experience for the team; if you don’t come prepared mentally errors creep in and that’s frustrating.”
Wilson praised the performance of Liaki Moli, “You could tell he is a Super Rugby player, he had a high work rate and was dominant across the field.”
The Blues now have a four day rest before they play reigning Pacific Rugby Cup champions the Fiji Warriors.
Wilson said the players would need to collect themselves mentally in the build up to Tuesday’s match if they are to record the fourth and final win of their campaign.
Blues Development 40 (V Fihaki, F Saili, J Parsons, S Luatua, P Ah-Ki, L Moli, M Lam 2 pen 1 con, J Semple 1 con)
Tonga A 3 (O Fifita 1 pen)