Super Rugby Pacific: Blues overwhelm Western Force at Eden Park to move atop competition table

Halfback Taufa Funaki has scored a try double to spearhead the Blues to a 50-3 romp over bottom-of-the-table Western Force at Eden Park, grabbing a share of the Super Rugby Pacific competition lead.

The homeside were always on top of their hapless opponents, running in eight unanswered tries, with the visitors managing just a penalty from first-five Ben Donaldson in response.

With coach Vern Cotter resting several dinged-up frontliners - including All Blacks No.9 Finaly Christie - for the encounter, Funaki got the start and crossed on either side of halftime, both the products of backing up teammates inside the opposition 22.

Taufa Funaki scores a try against Western Force.
Taufa Funaki scores a try against Western Force. Photo credit: Photosport

With first-five Stephen Perofeta likely sidelined long term with a shoulder injury, replacement Harry Plummer converted five of the tries to bring up the half century.

The Western Australians have barely fired a shot this season, their only win coming against Queensland Reds, but this result was easily their most devastating defeat, as they failed to challenge the Blues goal-line.

"There was a bit of chat around that we've lost 4-5 of our key members through injuries," said Plummer. "In a squad like ours, that builds a bit of resilience in some ways - we take it as a bit of a challenge and try to step into the roles.

"For me personally, someone like Stevie, who has controlled our ship so well over the past six games and has been such a key figure in our team, it feels a bit seamless, because I've admired how he plays.

"It's next cab off the rank, you've just got to step in do your job and it was a pleasure to play behind a forward pack that was so dominant."

The result sees the Blues sharing top spot with the unbeaten Hurricanes, who are enjoying a bye week.

With their mounting injury toll, the Aucklanders will take full advantage of their bye next week, before facing top Aussies ACT Brumbies on April 20.

Blues 50 (Funaki 2, Lam, Evans, Sotutu, McWhannell, Riccitelli & Tu'ungafasi tries; Plummer 5 conversions) Western Force 3 (Donaldson penalty)

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