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Flavell and Tipoki under clouds

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Saturday, April 15, 2006    Sportal.co.nz    Photosport

The six tries-to-one Rebel Sport Super 14 win over the competition minnows was the best demonstration yet of the latent potential in the Blues side.

Nucifora said Flavell will have a scan on the shoulder on Saturday morning but it was not looking good.

"It is a big upset for our plans. It has put a real dampener on the evening. We seem to go from one serious injury to another," he said.

But, of the win, he said he was delighted with the first 60 minutes, at which point the reserves were given a run.

"We took a few more steps up. We were very crisp," he said.

He thought the Blues lineout, which three weeks ago looked to exist in name only, was outstanding and the defence of the side was also solid.

"We kept our intensity up and we never really let them into the game. We never really gave them the advantage line and it was hard for them to play," he said.

Nucifora said he detected a change in the side's momentum at training during the week.

Not many teams had put 39 points on the Force this year and no-one had scored more than four tries against them so he was happy to have the Blues score six.

Captain Keven Mealamu said the side set a good platform for itself last week against the Stormers and with good execution against the Force had succeeded in putting a lot of little things together.

The situation was helped by the fact that players are now having to fight for their places in the side.

Force coach John Mitchell praised the Blues for what he described as some "wonderful rugby."

The Force has shown in the last few weeks that when it sticks to its structure it is competitive but there were lapses of concentration and he thought some of the decision-making in the game was 'pretty average.'

Injuries have hit the side hard and its resources are being tested.

Mitchell said the Blues are a very talented bunch of footballers who will only get better with maturity and that was something the Blues administration and the franchise's public would just have to be patient about.

The Force captain, and lock, Nathan Sharpe said when talking to his players down 3-20 at half-time, it was a case of taking the emotion out of the situation.

"We made about eight mistakes tonight and they scored five tries. The Blues are a dangerous side and they made us pay for it," he said.