Vern Cotter reacts to the Blues’ big win coming at a cost

Nearly 40 points separated the Blues and Moana Pasifika when the full-time whistle was blown at Eden Park on Saturday, but while the Blues took the points from the win and were promoted to second on the table, they also took some injuries.

Team captain Patrick Tuipulotu and midfielder Bryce Heem were both taken from the field with head knocks, while playmaker Stephen Perofeta went down with a shoulder injury.

Prior to Heem leaving the field in the 53rd minute, he had claimed a try, a game-high of nine defenders beaten, nine tackles and nine carries. That try came in the 34th minute and extended the Blues’ lead to 28-3.

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“I was just saying [in the coaches’ box] he wasn’t doing much, then he runs right through the middle of the whole pack and scores between the posts, and then puts good things on top of good things,” Blues coach Vern Cotter said of Heem after the win.

The coach had a level-headed response when analysing the win.

“It took us a while to settle and we probably pushed a couple of passes. There was good attitude in our carry, and line breaks have followed. I was pleased with some of the link play that was done – just draw and pass, nice, simple stuff.”

The breakdown stuck out as one area that needed attention for the coach.

“We had to work hard, and sometimes we were too slow getting there.

“There are things around our game that we’ll need to improve next week against the Force because they’re also very active at the breakdown.

“I’m happy with the score, [and] pleased the players got out there and scored some points, and the defence was reasonably good, except for a couple of times when we gave them easy outs, so they were happy.

“We’ve had to work hard for it. We knew Moana would come out physically and pressure us at the breakdown.

“We probably took a while to get into the game in that sense, but we wore them down and ended up putting some points on the board.”

The impressive form of Hoskins Sotutu continued in the contest and the agile No. 8 had no issues filling in for Heem in the midfield when he was called upon to do so.

“He got a turnover and set up a pass and a try,” Cotter remarked. “That’s outstanding. It’s good that the boys are able to adapt and work around those types of scenarios, and we’re going to have to work around some more next week.”

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