Blues prepared for high-flying Chiefs

It might not have been pretty, but skipper James Parsons believes the Blues’ win over the Jaguares provided a solid dress rehearsal for facing Super Rugby’s hottest side.

The Blues are in Hamilton on Friday night, when they will be up against the Chiefs, the competition leaders and its top scorers.

The Chiefs have averaged of 40 points a match and collected three try-scoring bonus points, and last weekend produced a dynamic attacking display in downing top Australian outfit the Brumbies 48-23 in Canberra.

On the same night, the Blues made hard work of getting past the Jaguares 24-16 in Albany, but Parsons saw that encounter as good preparation for tackling the Chiefs.

“I think the Jaguares match was a great dress rehearsal – both are top off-loading sides,” he said.

“They are both electric and they like to play from anywhere.”

While the victory over the Argentines was just the Blues’ second of the season, Parsons said it further developed confidence in their systems.

He was also happy to take a win, however it came.

“Although it wasn’t perfect and it was messy, I think in past years we probably wouldn’t have got across the line,” he said.

“We’ve still got a bit of work to do in terms of executing our skills under pressure and keeping the momentum in our favour, but we definitely made a step forward.”

Blues coach Tana Umaga has made two injury-forced changes to the starting 15, with lock Patrick Tuipulotu and prop Nic Mayhew dropping out.

While the Blues lose an All Black in Tuipulotu, the Chiefs welcome two of their own back from injury in starting locks Brodie Retallick and Dominic Bird.

Parsons expressed plenty of confidence in Tuipulotu’s replacement, Hoani Matenga, being able to step up.

“Hoani has been putting in a lot of effort at training and he’s got a huge physical present,” he said.

“They’re world-class locks that they have coming back, but a lot of our focus is on nailing what we do.”

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