Consistency, especially against the top teams in Super Rugby Pacific, continues to elude the Blues, and things will be more challenging in Brisbane on Friday against a confident Reds team.
Acting captain and lock Patrick Tuipulotu said there were three more games in the regular season, and the challenge for the Blues was to find that consistency ahead of the playoffs.
"As a forward pack, we've got to stamp our mark and do the talking there because that's where it all starts.
"It will be tough [against the Reds] and gritty.
"Knowing [Reds coach] Brad Thorn is big on physicality, and we saw that against the Chiefs [last week]. We won't expect any less. We will have to take them on up front. I enjoy that as a player. We'll walk towards it. There are going to be some sore bodies next week.
"The lineout will be a good battle. They are one of the top lineout winners in the competition so we will have to do the job there."
Tuipulotu said last week's loss to the Crusaders hurt a lot, especially in his area of expertise – the lineout. Also, losing Sam Darry to a broken arm was a blow.
They had worked on their lineout and scrum this week in preparation for the Reds. He said while they had yet to reach a peak in their performance, they were still capable of achieving that, and if they made the playoffs, the players had the experience to adapt to the different demands to be competitive.
Off to the 4300 about to go hectic pic.twitter.com/joibCByFkf— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) May 17, 2023
Flanker and captain Dalton Papali'i's absence due to a three-week ban would be felt because he was such a significant presence. However, with Adrian Choat, Akira Ioane and Hoskins Sotutu, they were well served in the loose.
Assistant coach Daniel Halangahu said their review showed shortcomings in identifying space and opportunities against the Crusaders. But the review revealed there was plenty of it available.
"We have to be better. The defensive team did a really good job of turning over ball when we were on our line. We looked at most of those kicks, and there were what we wanted. But, there were just a couple where there was space for us to attack."
"Perhaps the defensive effort took out our legs, or we have to get better at calling that space."
Halangahu said the failure didn't rest with first five-eighths Beauden Barrett.
He was working with the halfback, and the halfback was focused on the ruck.
"The 15s [fullbacks], the wings, they've got so much more time than our game drivers to see that space, and they need to communicate it. So that's part of the reason the All Blacks used Beauden at fullback, because of how good his communication is and how he sees that space.
"We never put it on our 10s [first five-eighths]. It's the other guys being able to communicate space and options, and then being decisive and executing it. That's part of what we're working with Roger [Tuivasa-Scheck] on – getting eyes up and out, see that space and get an effective call in."
Queensland Reds v Blues: Friday 19 May, 7.35pm AEST, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.