Blues get their win, now it's time to build

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Lynn McConnell     10 Mar 2019     Getty Images

Coach Leon MacDonald said on the back of a disciplined effort at QBE Stadium on Saturday in which the Blues benefited from a 3-15 penalty count, they had needed to have things start going their way to get the belief to start growing.

MacDonald said it had been a relief to get a win after a couple of tough weeks. While it hadn't been pretty they had toughed it out and were deserving of the win in the end.

"The Sunwolves played really well and tested us around the park and there was some really good stuff among some loose stuff, but overall it was a really good collective effort," he said.

It was clear the Blues were at their best when players like wing Rieko and No.8 Akira Ioane were carrying the ball but it hadn't gone their way in the previous two weeks and to see them get their hands on the ball was both exciting and pleasing, he said.

MacDonald said looking at the territory and possession the Blues controlled the second half very well.

"Even though we just had our noses in front we felt like we were playing at the right end for the majority of the game and when we started to get a little bit of dominance in the scrum we turned the screw there a little bit and didn't let them back into the game.

"Some of the game management was a lot better although some individual handling errors and bits and pieces are still cutting it off.

"I think as we get a little more belief and relax a little…I thought we were just a little bit on edge, especially at that start and once we get a little bit of cohesion we are going to be a lot better," he said.

The win was important because the side hadn't been far away, and that was seen again in Albany where there was a foot in touch and a penalty kick just under the crossbar and more right on the line and just about an inch short.

"We're not far away and we've just got to keep working hard at our game every week and that's what's been really impressive with all the distractions and the travel and everything going on, the guys are really committed to getting better so that's been really good," he said.

MacDonald praised the work of captain Sonny Bill Williams in taking charge of a messy start to dampen down the emotion the players were showing. Williams had been impressive all week in leading the side and it allowed returning flanker Blake Gibson to get out and concentrate on playing.

"I was stoked for Blake. He's had a tough ride and had a false start in the pre-season and I know he would have been anxious to get through that first game without a hiccup and he's done that really well and he'll feel a lot better for it. We're a better team when he's on the field," he said.