The Queensland Reds’ struggles with Super Rugby Pacific’s New Zealand-based sides have continued with a 53-26 thrashing at the hands of the Blues.
They dug in early but were blitzed in the second half with five tries, slumping to a fourth straight defeat and an 0-4 record against New Zealand teams.
Reds’ captain Tate McDermott said effort was not the problem, but rather matching it with classy opposition in key moments.
“I don’t think that scoreboard was reflective of how hard we tried out there, the Blues were all class but so I’ll take my hat off to them,” he told Stan Sport.
“We use this next two weeks to really get that belief we had earlier on in the season and we’ll get back on the horse.
“I’ll never fault this side for effort, we just got to make sure in those key moments we’re executing, which we’re not doing at the moment.
“We’re pretty proud of our attack, but we’ve just got to get the ball. For us that’s our main issue.”
The contest Eden Park turned into a one-on-one battle between former NRL stars Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Suliasi Vunivalu, each making monumental contributions in their new code.
Former Dally M medallist Tuivasa-Sheck was the first to make an impact, with a slashing run driving his team forward allowing the powerful Blues unit to rumble over the line courtesy of Caleb Clarke for a 17-0 lead.
Bryce Heem had found the game’s first try on 14 minutes, carving through the Reds’ defence just three minutes after coming off the bench for the injured Rieko Ioane.
Heem crossed again, doubling up as Tuivasa-Sheck again weaved some magic with a precise pass to create a line break for Stephen Perofeta who in turn found the substitute.
But Vunivalu, a two-time NRL premiership player with Melbourne, powered over on 22 minutes and he helped the Reds cut the halftime deficit to eight points, with a brutal run trampling Blues opponents and allowing lock Ryan Smith to cross.
But two tries in the second half’s first five minutes proved vital for the Blues, able to cruise away for the bonus-point win.
Reds fullback Jock Campbell did notch a second-half double thanks to gorgeous passes from James O’Connor and Vunivalu.
It was the most points the Reds have let through in any match this season, exceeding the 32 points they copped against the Rebels in round nine.
Blues captain Dalton Papalii said his side’s professional approach had helped them go seven points clear on top of the table.
“It’s boring and I keep saying it, but it’s our preparation that goes into each day and each moment,” he said.
“For us winning is contagious, the last couple of years we’ve been fighting battles … we’ve got on a roll now and the winning is contagious.
“The playoffs … we’ll think about that later on. But right now we just we celebrate this one and it’s on to the next.”