Waratahs another step up for Blues

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Thursday, May 4, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Forwards coach Steve Jackson said there were a couple of players who could influence the contest, especially at the breakdown, where Wallaby Michael Hooper was capable of being a nuisance so the Blues were looking to tidy up their own ball. There was also a need to deny the Wallabies quick ball as well.
"They're similar to the Brumbies, they're a set-piece team and they work a lot off their lineouts and we need to nullify that or give them poor quality ball," he said.

"If we can free up [flanker] Blake Gibson around the breakdown area when we haven't got the ball, the guys in the tight five have got to do their job up front, it frees up our loose forwards to do what they need to do. We managed to slow Brumbies ball down and that was simply because Blake was able to get in and be a menace around that ruck area.

"And [flanker] Akira Ioane came into his own over the ball a couple of times. Freeing up him and [No.8] Steven Luatua is the ultimate for us but again we understand the guys up front need to do their job first," he said.

The effort of the inexperienced locks Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and Scott Scrafton had been outstanding, and a continuation of their efforts of recent weeks. Scrafton had 19 tackles to top the tackle count in the Brumbies game while Cowley-Tuioti was getting through a 'quite phenomenal' amount of work.

"In the last two weeks, in particular, those two have been outstanding," he said.

Captain James Parsons said Canberra had traditionally been a tough place to play but they were pleased to come out of last Sunday with a bonus point. They knew that to keep pushing for a play-offs spot they needed to keep winning while also picking up bonus points.

While there was a short turn around from the Sunday game to Saturday, the one bonus from that was being Australian teams they liked to play similar styles. They had switched quickly once arriving in Sydney on Monday, and while there were some sore bodies they had got into their preparation well and would be fresh for Saturday, he said.

Winning away from home was something the side had worked on last year, and they were wanting to step up on that front again this year.

"The other thing is we are a fairly desperate bunch of boys now and are keen to make a statement and put ourselves in a good position once we come back home and keep giving us a sniff week in and week out," he said.

The two sides on Saturday each liked to play a physical style of game and the Blues would be looking to match them front on, something they had been able to do, even without Jerome Kaino and Patrick Tuipulotu last weekend. Cowley-Tuioti and Scrafton had done well in that area.

"We're just going to have to fight fire with fire and we back ourselves to do so," he said.