At last some great news for Blues fans. Your season - or should that be your living nightmare - is almost at a merciful end.
And not even a flatteringly convincing 32-9 victory tonight against a down-and-out Force outfit could sugar coat the reality for Pat Lam's team - this has turned into a winter of discontent and the sooner they're put out of their misery, the better for all concerned.
This was as bad a Force side as we've seen since they were added to this competition in 2006. Their plight was summed up when venerable skipper Nathan Sharpe had to pull out after tweaking his back in the hotel. Even the thought of hostilities was enough to lock the old soldier up.
But even with the under-strength visitors - also badly missing the classy David Pocock - bumbling their way through 80 minutes of ineptitude, the Blues made fairly hard work of it, leading just 13-9 at the break, and requiring a two-try burst through the middle stages of the second half to break things open.
From there they cantered to their third win of the campaign to leapfrog the West Australians on the table - a demonstrative case of too little, too late if ever there was one.
This was resistible force meeting movable object, or 14th hosting 13th on the table in a clash that lured only the mad and the season ticket-holding - 10,200 of them, apparently - out of their warm homes on a chilly winter night.
Sure, the return of champion All Black hooker Keven Mealamu promised a little more starch up front for the Blues, but the reality was this match meant next to nothing, and certainly changes nothing in any appraisal of this season. This is still an excruciatingly poor team, and one serviced by a fundamentally flawed system that is doing a better job feeding NRL clubs than it is the region's showcase rugby outfit.
All right, the Blues have been snake-bitten by injury. But others have seen troops go down, and still maintained form. This group crumbled at the first hint of misfortune.
At least they served up something quasi-respectable over the second 40 here, the promising Charles Piutau on debut, a fresh looking Ma'a Nonu and Luke Braid adding to Steve Luatua's first-half touchdown.
The Blues forwards plugged away all game and eventually steadied their wobbly scrum. Luke Braid had another big game, while Luatua also continued his splendid progress.
It was nice to see Nonu distributing so well in midfield - where it appears he'll be needed soon by the All Blacks - and sevens specialist Piutau did enough to ensure a contract should get waved under his nose next season.
Others may not be so lucky with this Blues squad set to receive the most extreme of makeovers.
Later Lam expressed satisfaction at the first bonus point win of the season, and reckoned the late emergence of the likes of Piutau, Luatua and Francis Saili had offered one bright note for the franchise.
"A lot of fresh talent has been unearthed right across the competition in New Zealand, and to see the likes of Francis, Steven and Charles come through has been really pleasing.
"There's a lot more talent to come yet, but it's just getting that right."
Surprisingly, considering it may be his last game as a coach on Eden Park, Lam said the occasion had been one bereft of emotion for him. "No decision has been made on that yet and till there is I'll keep my head down and doing the job and let the powers that be make their decisions."
Blues 32 (Steven Luatua, Charles Piutau, Ma'a Nonu, Luke Braid tries; Lachie Munro 2 pens, 3 cons), Western
Force 9 (Ben Seymour 3 pens).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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