Tokyo – Blues head coach Tana Umaga was full of praise his side’s defensive efforts in their victory over the Sunwolves in Tokyo at the weekend.
Umaga was not surprised at the way the Sunwolves came out against his side on Tokyo on Saturday but he was happy to emerge from the contest with a 24-10 win.
It made up for the last round embarrassment the Blues suffered last year when being thrashed 48-21 in Tokyo, in spite of having beaten the British and Irish Lions only a week or two before.
“We knew they had targeted us after last year,” Umaga told the All Blacks’ official website.
“They started at a frenetic pace and put us under pressure by running it from everywhere. They got some early success – but we showed resolve and defended well.”
Towards the end of the first half the intensity of the home side flagged a little which allowed the Blues to get more into their groove and to feel more comfortable.
“We had a good chat at half-time and talked through what was needed around the breakdown and to look after our ball more,” said Umaga.
“One of the pleasing things is that the team made those adjustments and really controlled the second half which was tougher in that we played into the wind.
“Their way of countering the wind disadvantage was to keep the ball, show patience and to keep their error rate down.
“When they [the Sunwolves] did attack our defence saved the day – the defence was awesome.”
Umaga was also pleased with the way some of the lesser lights in the side took their chances.
“I felt all the newcomers did exceptionally well,” he added.
“Jordan Hyland was a handful on the wing and got himself two tries. (Centre) Orbyn Leger is a young player who works his butt off and makes good decisions. I was delighted with his debut.
“And when Ben Neenee came on we asked him to bring some energy – and he did that.”
The side had talked about their effort last year in Japan and they were under pressure to rectify that result.
“We must now build from this. We need to get home and prepare for the Highlanders where we must lift again,” said Umaga.