It was a case of attitude over altitude as the Blues recorded a rare away win on South African soil over the Lions on Saturday.
The 38-35 Super Rugby win was only their second since 2012 on this side of the Indian Ocean with their only other success coming against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth in 2016.
What made the performance even more remarkable was that the Blues lost a day in their preparation after their plane got grounded in Auckland due to technical reasons.
They‚ however‚ showed remarkable fortitude and staying power in the last quarter to deliver a shock defeat on a Lions team that usually lengthen their stride in that period.
It probably also says something about New Zealand teams’ conditioning that the Lions have now lost on the last two occasions a Kiwi team has visited.
“We don’t make excuses.
“It is what it is‚” said coach Tana Umaga about the resolve his team was required to show this week.
The former blue bloods of New Zealand rugby have become the near laughing stock in their conference for their inability to invoke the spirit of Blues teams past.
They won the first two editions of Super Rugby but their last title came in 2003.
The win over the high flying Lions should go some way to shedding their unwanted tag of underachieving glamour boys from the big city.
Having enjoyed 67 percent of the possession‚ the Blues added substance to style at one of the most daunting venues on the Super Rugby circuit.
No 8 Akira Ioane was simply monumental.
“People question the culture within our group‚” Umaga noted with a raised eyebrow.
“I think you got a good glimpse of what it is. These boys play for each other.
“They want to do it for each other. We need to make sure we are consistent about that.
“We know it’s in there‚ we just need to pull it out.
“It’s about them being themselves and expressing themselves‚ having belief in the way they want to play‚” the former All Blacks utility back said.
Umaga stopped well short of doing cartwheels after the shock win.
He was measured in his appraisal of the result.
“We’ll just enjoy the win for now‚” Umaga said.
“Getting one win doesn’t mean that makes the season.
“In saying that‚ it is a confidence builder for us.
“In our previous game we didn’t show any of the attributes we showed here.
“We’ve got some good things to come out of this.
“We need to get back on track in Cape Town and do it again.”
The win was a bolt from the blue when you consider their poor form on the road and the way in which they again lost to their neighbours‚ the Chiefs last weekend.
It was a defeat for which they copped some serious flak back home.
“I think we were fortunate to have jumped on a plane after last week. We are used to that.
“That is what we get. It was probably well deserved and we were a bit embarrassed by that. This‚ however‚ is definitely something to build on.”
Having coached Toulon and Counties Manukau the win at Ellis Park must rank as one of Umaga’s finest.
“It has to rate right up there.
“It is probably not from a performance point of view‚ but for grinding it out a result.”
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