New Blues coach Tana Umaga is naturally delighted with a 59-7 win but also says the Super Rugby pre-season victory over the Melbourne Rebels has to taken with a grain of salt.
The Blues scored nine tries – each to a different player – to one against understrength opposition on Thursday in Auckland.
“Yes (happy), although we have to take it with a grain of salt,” he said, noting the make-up of the Melbourne squad.
“In terms of the way we performed and the scoreline, it was good, but there are still things for us to work on.”
One positive for Umaga was that he was able to give plenty of his squad a run, including midfield back Rene Ranger, back after a spell in France.
It was the six-Test All Black’s first outing in 10 months after undergoing neck surgery.
Ranger came on after halftime and, with his first touch, made a big bust past two tacklers. He later was among the try-scorers.
“As you saw, he was back to his old self of getting himself in there,” Umaga said.
“He was walking around a little bit, which you can expect, so it’s just getting back that fitness now.”
However, the victory in front of about 500 fans at Pakuranga United Rugby Club was soured by an ankle injury to inside back Piers Francis, who went off in the first half.
Francis will have x-rays to determine the seriousness of the problem.
Rebels coach Tony McGahan was fulsome in his praise of the Blues, saying the scoreline was a fair reflection of how they had performed.
“They were excellent all the way through,” he said.
“You saw the strike power they had through a big squad.”
The Rebels scored right on halftime through centre Mitch Inman to trail just 14-7, but the Blues blew out the score in the second half.
“We were left catching up in the last 15 minutes,” McGahan said.
“That’s what pre-season is about. We’ve got a lot of players coming back in.”
While the Blues had a reserve bench of 18, the Rebels had a total squad of 24.
Because of being cautious with personnel carrying injuries, McGahan said only 14 of 35 contracted players were in action.
He expected to have a full complement to pick from when the Rebels faced Samoa on February 18 in Melbourne.