Two steps forward, one step back
The last 2 minutes against the Chiefs (and the terrible maul call by the refs), and that brain dead, insipid performance on Friday night defines our season. It’s a hard road to the final from here - need to get a point more than the chiefs where we have Crusaders away, Chiefs at home, and htey have Canes at home, and us away. Need to win both our games to have a shot, or rely on a massive Hurricanes upset.
Feels a very mixed bag for the season. Two steps forward, one step back. Our first few games we played well; the game against the Highlanders at home it felt like we could crack 50 points cantering away. We asked some damn good questions of the Crusaders, but they were good enough to respond, and take the game. Since then, though, both teams have fallen apart in the quality of rugby put out there.
Overall, I’m still not disappointed. from where we were a couple of years ago, where we couldn’t beat NZ sides at home or away, to being legitimate contenders is a big shift. People talk up the team, and we have some good players, but when you looked at the Highlanders lineup there wasn’t huge quality. We’re still weak at 2/9/10 (but better than we were); props, loosies, Rieko and Caleb the only real standout areas of strength to me.
I still think we’re building to a consistent challenge; decent administration, decent coaching and finally some good talent scouting. I am amused (slightly bitterly) that two of the other 4 starting 9s in SRA were in the Blues mix, and we couldn’t get the best out of them.
This year isn’t a write off, but it’ll take something special to get to the final. Roll on Trans Tasman - but the 2 losses in the last 3 weeks will probably scupper our chances of going deep into that comp as well
Edit: the good news is our destiny is still in our hands - both on the field, and in the long term performance of the team. All the attributes are in place we just have to start delivering