Blues didn't perform, John Kirwan says
March 10, 2013
Sir John Kirwan said "I didn't think we performed to be honest" © Getty Images
Sir John Kirwan accepted that his decision to name six debutants to face the Bulls had cost the Blues at Eden Park on Sunday afternoon. He also pointed to poor preparation as a chief cause of the Blues' disappointing 28-21 loss to the Bulls.
Taranaki wing Waisake Naholo epitomised the difference in class between personnel on either side, making a number of costly errors - including one that led to the Bulls' second try. And rookie fly-half Baden Kerr will rue his botched midfield kick that also contributed to that same five-pointer.
But Kirwan said the criticism should focus squarely on the coach. "We made some changes and I think we trained probably not as well as we could have all week," Kirwan said. "I'll cop that on the chin and we just need to get back into it."
Kirwan also said that his youthful squad had failed to execute the expansive style of play that had seen them upset the Hurricanes and Crusaders in previous weeks, straying from the patterns they had practised and instead playing a style that accommodated their opposition.
"I didn't think we performed to be honest," Kirwan said after the game. "I felt that we didn't play what we trained all week so that was disappointing. It was pretty poor really."
Blues captain Ali Williams was irate after the Bulls had claimed their first triumph at Eden Park in 16 years, and he hinted that complacency may have been an issue with some players.
"We're a team that plays with the ball and stresses defences, and we resorted to playing their style of football, which, they are the best in the world at," Williams said.
"There was no spark. That can't come from a coaching staff; that comes from within, individually, and then it comes collectively by looking at your mates and saying 'here's another chance to wear the Blues jersey'.
"I'm pretty pissed off at how we played, purely because of our attitude towards playing Blues rugby."
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was pleased with the way his side achieved its goals, which included shutting down the Blues' ability to offload in contact.
"Obviously any win away, especially in New Zealand, is special, it doesn't come easy," Ludeke said. "We had to put together a special effort to accomplish that. I must say it's really satisfying."
The Bulls scored all three of their tries through sweeping passing plays, in direct contrast to the crash-and-bash style that is their bread and butter.
Captain Pierre Spies highlighted the importance of having alternative options on attack to avoid being too predictable. "We like to vary our game a bit and make use of opportunities we're given," Spies said. "You've got to have a complete game to win the competition."
The Blues could not contain the power of the Bulls at Eden Park
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.