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Larkham gives Blues the edge in Grand Final

Larkham gives Blues the edge in Grand Final

All BlacksJune 18, 2024

Beaten Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said the Blues will be hard to beat when hosting the Chiefs in Saturday's DHL Super Rugby Pacific final at Eden Park.

Despite losing skipper and lock Patrick Tuipulotu, the Blues still managed to use their maul, scrum, and power, which served them well during the campaign.

Larkham said, "That power game with their carry, one off the ruck, forwards, backs joining in with a bit of a pick, the halfbacks picking up and just powering through the defences on the inside, they've all been strengths of their game.

"And, defensively they are one of the strongest teams in all aspect. They're very well drilled, they're big bodies and they're going to be hard to beat."

Larkham said that while it was disappointing to be knocked out in the semifinals again, he was confident they had a good enough game to build on for the future. But the missing ingredient is consistency.

The Blues showed the benefits of starting well, using contestable restarts and then holding the ball through multiple passages to score tries.

"That was typical Blues rugby and it was impressive to watch."

The Brumbies were capable of fighting back and showed that in the second and third quarters, but they could not penetrate the Blues' defence.

"If we do that, then it's a whole different ballgame."

The Smiling Assassin did not miss 👏#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/uvBJnqw2n3

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) June 16, 2024

The depth of the Blues squad was also impressive.

Larkham said, "We thought we were a chance with some of their changes this week, but the guys that came in stepped into those shoes and did a good job. All the aspects of their game that we saw through the season in terms of their strengths: scrum, maul, ball carry, and defence were there.

"We missed a few opportunities to get good tackles on and once they get momentum, they're pretty hard to stop. If they get a little momentum with one carry, they're quickly into that breakdown and picking and going straight through. It's hard to get a stop on after that."

Reflecting on the season, Larkham said he was impressed with the Blues, Hurricanes and Chiefs this year.

"They've been very detailed and good at what they do.

"Even the Crusaders were starting to get a bit of a run on at the back end of the season, so there's a lot of talent over here.

"From an Australian perspective, we had a better season as Australian franchises. We showed up a lot better.

"I was impressed with the way the Reds started the competition. The Rebels also showed a few people that there is a bit of talent in Australia. They surprised a few teams, particularly the three teams that got through to the finals.

"But, while there's an improvement in Australian rugby, there's also been a really strong improvement in New Zealand rugby."

He said, as always, the Bledisloe Cup games would indicate how far Australia has come.

Both teams looking for redemption 😤#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/XPpJTfUMJm

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) June 16, 2024

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