The Blues defended with pride and purpose to grab a 17-13 victory over the Force in another rain-affected Investec Super Rugby clash at nib Stadium in Perth.
After racing to a 17-3 halftime lead on the back of two outstanding counter-attack tries, the Blues spent much of the second half on defence, and nearly half of that second stanza with 14 men on the back of two yellow cards.
They dug deep with some outstanding defence throughout, rushing the opposition, their tackling was fierce and accurate, finally giving way to just one second half try to the home side.
The ground was sodden after torrential rain and hail in Perth with the heavy rain returning in the second half when the Blues played into the conditions.
“It’s the story of our season that we have not put that complete performance together but we have grown something special in our pride for the jersey,” said captain James Parsons.
“Last week was a slip-up and we really wanted to show that the emblem right here – the Blues – means something to us. I am proud of the group for holding on there but we have plenty of work-ons.
“We didn’t take the points we needed with the opportunities we had early in the second half and from that point we were hard on our D for pretty much the rest of the second half but we are happy with the win.
“We feed off that defence. We knew it was important. We knew the Force don’t give up and were relentless in terms of their attack. We knew it was coming and withstand it was great.”
In the first half the Blues showed aggressive and in-your-face defence, and despite spending much of the half without the ball, they were impressive.
They made the most of their few chances, both first half tries from counter-attacks. The first came off a turnover on defence with a run down the short side where Charlie Faumuina handled twice before Billy Guyton took the ball in to the red zone. After a series of phase play, Jerome Kaino crashed over beside the posts.
The second came from another turnover deep in the Blues territory, with the ball spread wide where George Moala made a crashing run before unloading to Tanerau Latimer in support and he flicked to Tevita Li, who had no trouble rounding the cover tackler to score handy to the posts.
They lost Faumuina to a yellow card virtually on halftime, and again lost Nic Mayhew to a card for the last 10 minutes.
In between times there was some remarkable defence and inspirational play led by Kaino, Latimer and Patrick Tuipulotu.
The Force had a series of 5m lineouts from penalties late in the game, before knocking the ball on with time up. With Ofa Tu’ungafasi failing a concussion test, an injury to Faumuina and Mayhew with a yellow card, the resulting scrum was therefore uncontested, with Ihaia West putting the ball to touch for the win.
The Blues will now return home with a more-than-acceptable two wins from three games from their overseas tour to move to six wins and a draw from 11 games.
They will need to tidy up kick-off returns and their kicking game in general, as well as their discipline on the back of a 17-4 penalty count, for a much anticipated clash against the Crusaders at Eden Park next Saturday.
Blues 17 (Jerome Kaino, Tevita Li tries; Ihaia West 2 conversions, 1 penalty)
Force 14 (Matt Hodgson try, Ben Tapuai conversion, penalty, Ian Prior penalty.)