The Force were blown away by a Blues outfit that just did enough at Eden Park this afternoon.
Here are five things we learned from the 24-15 loss.
1. Gulf in conference quality widens
Two Trans-Tasman Super Rugby clashes for two Kiwi wins so far in round six. Neither the Force nor the Rebels were expected to win but the Blues were not sharp today and the Force could not take advantage of the opportunity. Conversely, when New Zealand teams make line breaks, they have the skill set to turn the opportunities into points. That's how the Blues kicked clear today. That's now three wins for Australian teams from their last 34 matches against opposition from across the ditch.
2. Brache at his best at 13
Marcel Brache provided some serious go forward for the Force this afternoon. He shifted to outside centre in place of the injured Curtis Rona and was strong with each carry. A stat line of eight runs for 90 metres, two defenders beaten, three clean breaks and an offload makes for impressing read.
3. Haylett-Petty shows class
Dane Haylett-Petty was dearly missed against the Crusaders last week and he showed his class tonight. His carries from the back produce a consistent platform from which the Force can launch attacks from, though they are yet to capitalise on his prolonged purple patch of form. Just as Brache's stat line was impressive, Haylett-Petty managed an imposing line of 15 runs for 108 metres, six tackle busts, a line break, three offloads and a try, albeit a consolation one.
4. Force attack yet to click
With the amount of ball and territory the Force had in the opening 25 minutes, a sole Richie Arnold try off the back of a rolling maul was not enough points from the amount of pressure they applied. Bill Meakes' return to inside centre helped the flow on attack but the statistics say the Force are the worst attacking team in Super Rugby and they did not do much to change that point of view tonight.
5. Polota-Nau powerful in second start
Tatafu Polota-Nau was left out of the Force starting XV in the opening weeks but he has stepped up in place of Heath Tessman. His throws were on the money and he got through his usual amount of work around the park. He said preseason that he still harboured hopes of being Australia's best hooker. He's not there yet but consistent form like this can only help his cause.