'Need to be better': Blues not making excuses after Super Round defeat
Captain Dalton Papali’i wasn’t looking to make any excuses after the Blues’ tough 20-25 loss to the Brumbies on Sunday.
After starting their campaign with a convincing 40-point win over the Highlanders last week, the Blues were handed an early season wakeup call by one of their recent rivals.
The blockbuster between the Blues and Brumbies always promised to be one of the games of Super Round, and the match certainly lived up to the hype.
But the conditions didn’t exactly suit either team.
Playing in the sweltering heat at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, referee Ben O’Keefe paused the game on a couple of occasions so players could have a drinks break.
If anything, these stoppages only added the drama and theatre of the occasion.
The Brumbies took a slender 25-20 lead into the half-time break, and that’s ultimately how the scores remained throughout a scoreless second 40.
As the full-time whistle sounded, a loud cheer erupted throughout the stadium, as the Brumbies were sent into a state of euphoria. As for the Blues, they’re left to rue what could’ve been.
But they weren’t going to start making excuses.
Star flanker Dalton Papali’i said that while his teammates’ legs were “getting heavy” late in the piece, that “it’s our job to bloody work hard.”
“Not feeling the best after that performance. I think we could have had more punch in that second-half, especially in that last 20 minutes,” Papali’i told reporters.
“They came for our breakdown in the last 15 minutes and it really showed that we needed to tighten up that area but we didn’t.
“We just need to be better.
“The boys were actually working pretty well… it was just more the legs getting heavy out there. But it doesn’t matter, it’s our job to bloody work hard.”
The Blues went down to 13 men inside the opening 10 minutes, as Caleb Clarke and James Lay were both shown yellow cards.
But if anything, the Auckland-based outfit managed to take control of the momentum for a period of time.
Hooker Ricky Riccitelli opened the scoring for the Blues in the 13th minute, before flanker Tom Robinson showcased his pace with an impressive try later in the half.
But it was a game of chess out there on Sunday, and the Blues were beaten in a thrilling battle.
Coach Leon MacDonald described the performance as “frustrating”, but insisted that “there’s still a lot of optimism” within the Blues squad.
“We started poorly,” MacDonald said. “Discipline was always going to be a factor for us and to give away penalties, end up with two in the bin at the start, it wasn’t the start we wanted.
“We want to start well and fast and put some pressure on them.
“We fought back pretty well but playing with 13 men in the heat is taxing.
“A pretty frustrating performance overall really, I don’t think there’s any areas that we felt we were exceptional at tonight which was a bit frustrating.
“I can’t fault their effort, I don’t think effort was an issue, I thought our guys really pushed themselves around the park and tried hard,” he added.
“There was no conserving energy, it was just a little bit of accuracy. That’s the frustrating thing because we’ve been training really well.
“Early season, there’s still plenty to work on, there’s still a lot of optimism in this group that’s for sure.”
The Blues have a tough challenge next week, as they travel to Wellington for a match against the undefeated Hurricanes at Sky Stadium.
Following that, they’ll host defending Super Rugby champions the Crusaders in Auckland.
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What a miserable life you must have Hamish - every article a negative slant on what might otherwise be good news stories. Despite your claims, NZRU did OK in terms of process in appointing a new coach - they were dammed if they did, dammed if they didn't so there was no perfect time to do this appointment. In the meantime, most of us rugby fans are delighted and excited by what Scott will bring to this ABs team - it will be one of the most looked forward to coaching appointments for years...Go to comments
The wales South Africa game was far more physical than the England NZ semi. Empty the tank, what a joke. They got beaten by smart tactics by Rassie in the final. The same way Eddie outwitted Hansen. Wales emptied the tank against the Springboks. They clearly had nothing left.Go to comments