Ranger excites in Blues nine-try romp

Ranger excites in Blues nine-try romp

Rene Ranger took no time returning to his block-busting best to ignite the Blues nine try romp over the Melbourne Rebels.

It marked the opening pre-season match for the Blues in a free community game with thousands packed in to Pakuranga Rugby Club at Bell Park to witness the 59-7 win.

Ranger, who only came on in the third quarter, scored a try and set up two others with typically exciting midfield busts.

The Blues managed to give 33 players action in the four 20-minute quarters, with the only downside a potentially serious leg injury to Piers Francis.

Leading 14-7 after the first period and 21-7 at halftime, the Blues opened up their lead with some of the high profile players coming on later in the game against a seriously under-strength Rebels side beset with injuries.

Coach Tana Umaga said there were plenty of positives.

“We got out of it what we wanted but take the final result with a grain of salt because they were so under-strength.

“We got a lot of players game time, especially that first line-up with players who had very little experience at Super Rugby against the Rebels combination with quite a few experienced players.

“I thought they equipped themselves well. I wanted to test them and one of the big positives is the way our young guys stood up. It is just about growing from here.”

He was pleased with Ranger and also Matt Duffie in his first game of rugby since school days.

“Rene is an exciting player. He has grown every week in his confidence after so long out of the game It is just the fitness levels he needs to get back to.

“I thought Matt did really well and he equipped himself really well.

“The way we performed and the score line were both good but there are still plenty of things to work on. I think the guys can take some real confidence from this as we move on.”

Blues 59 (Namatahi Waa, Jack Ram, Melani Nanai, Nic Mayhew, Steven Luatua, Matt Vaega, Patrick Tuipulotu, Rene Ranger, George Moala tries; Matt McGahan 4 cons, Ihaia West 3 cons)

Melbourne Rebels 7 (Mitch Inman try, Jack Debreczeni con).